U.S. Soccer: ‘No legal impediment’ to rehiring Gregg Berhalter as USMNT coach

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By Amit


Details of a sordid rift between two prominent U.S. soccer families — one that included allegations of domestic abuse against men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter and parental complaints about Gio Reyna’s playing time at the 2022 World Cup — continued to spill out Monday when the findings of an independent investigation were released.

The three-month probe, conducted by the Alston & Bird law firm, concluded Berhalter had not committed any additional acts of violence against his now-wife since 1992 and hadn’t violated any disclosure rules during his hiring process. He had previously admitted to kicking her while they were dating as students the University of North Carolina.

With that finding, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Berhalter would remain a candidate to return as coach. His contract had expired Dec. 31.

“Given the investigators’ conclusion that there is no legal impediment to employing him, Gregg Berhalter remains a candidate to serve as head coach,” the USSF said in a statement.

The governing body said it will not hire a coach until it appoints a new sporting director, a position that oversees all national teams. Earnie Stewart left the job last month. Anthony Hudson, a World Cup assistant, is the interim coach.

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The next coach will begin preparing the U.S. team for the 2026 World Cup, which will take place in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Berhalter guided the United States for four years, leading a young squad to two regional championships and a place in the World Cup, where it finished second in group play and lost to the Netherlands in the round of 16.

Investigators said in the report that they “uncovered no facts to show that U.S. Soccer knew of the 1992 Incident when it hired Mr. Berhalter; no facts to show that similar incidents occurred at any point in the last 31 years; no facts to show that the 1992 Incident has any nexus to the present or to the workplace; and no facts to support a claim that Mr. Berhalter presents a risk of harm to others.”

No police report was filed, so Berhalter was under no obligation to reveal the incident during his job interview. “There is no basis to conclude that Mr. Berhalter misled U.S. Soccer about the 1992 Incident at any time,” the investigators stated.

They did, however, say the incident was “unlawful and improper” and, had it occurred during Berhalter’s tenure as U.S. coach, “it would have created significant legal issues for the organization.”

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Berhalter was not immediately available for comment Monday.

Details of that 1992 incident were brought forward to the USSF in December by Danielle Reyna, the mother of rising star Gio Reyna and college roommate of Rosalind Berhalter, who is now Gregg Berhalter’s wife.

Danielle Reyna and her husband, former U.S. star Claudio Reyna, a close friend to Gregg Berhalter for decades, were upset with Berhalter during and after the World Cup. Gio Reyna, one of the team’s top young players, played sparingly in the tournament.

Then in a speech in New York three days after the United States was eliminated, Berhalter implied Gio Reyna had created problems behind the scenes in the days leading to the tournament and was nearly sent home.

Berhalter was told the speech was off the record, but a transcript was made public.

Danielle Reyna then shared the 1992 incident with the USSF, which prompted the independent investigation and put on hold the federation’s decision whether to offer Berhalter a new contract.

In a preemptive move, Berhalter went public with details about the 1992 incident and suggested it was being used against him.

A USSF employee, whose name was redacted from the report, told investigators that, after Gio Reyna did not play in the World Cup opener against Wales, Danielle Reyna said “something along the lines of, ‘Once this tournament is over, I can make one phone call and give one interview, and his cool sneakers and bounce passes will be gone. … I can take him down.’ ”

During games, Berhalter wore high-end sneakers and, when the ball came to him, he often would return it to a player with a basketball-style bounce pass.

Brian McBride, the team’s general manager at the time and Claudio Reyna’s former teammate, received an email from Claudio Reyna after the draw with Wales, the report stated. “Our entire family is disgusted, angry, and done with you guys,” it said. “Don’t expect nice comments from anyone in our family about US Soccer. I’m being transparent to you not like the political clown show of the federation.”

It was not the first time Claudio Reyna, a Hall of Famer and four-time World Cup player from the University of Virginia, had complained about their son’s treatment by U.S. Soccer, according the report, which stated that “witnesses described a pattern of periodic outreach by Mr. Reyna to U.S. Soccer officials and staff from in or around 2016 through the end of 2022, the purpose of which was to convey certain complaints and comments.”

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Witnesses, the report said, claimed Reyna attempted to influence decisions by U.S. Soccer officials and staff concerning his children on issues ranging from travel arrangements to the impact of on-pitch refereeing decisions.”

Claudio Reyna declined to be interviewed by investigators, the report said. Danielle Reyna, the report said, initially denied sharing information with Stewart about the Berhalters’ 1992 incident, then called investigators back and confirmed she had spoken with him.

“We were impressed with Mr. Berhalter’s candor and demeanor during the investigation,” the report stated. It later noted: “We were less impressed with the Reynas’ cooperation during the investigation.”

The Reynas were not immediately available for comment Monday.

According to the report, Berhalter told investigators that, during the World Cup: “There were 150 people in the Friends and Family program [in Qatar]. All were having a great time — except for five people who were absolutely miserable. Those five were cursing, acting horribly. It was the Reynas.”

The report said the Claudio Reyna’s actions raised “a legitimate issue about whether he violated FIFA’s rules and regulations” because he was the sporting director of MLS’s Austin FC. The Reyna family, however, didn’t violate any laws.

The USSF said Claudio Reyna’s alleged actions didn’t violate any of the organization’s policies because it does not have a communication policy involving parents of players.

It’s unclear whether Gio Reyna’s national team status will be impacted by the report. His next potential call-up — and the first for top European-based players since the World Cup — is for Concacaf Nations League matches at Grenada on March 24 and against El Salvador on March 27 in Orlando. The roster will be announced this week. Hudson, the interim coach, met with Reyna a few weeks ago in Germany, where he plays for Borussia Dortmund.

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