ESPN: Ex-USMNT Captain Exposed Coach Gregg Berhalter’s Past Domestic Violence Incident

It appears Claudio Reyna was upset about his son Gio's role at the World Cup

Gregg Berhalter gives directions at the World Cup against the Netherlands.
Gregg Berhalter may not be coaching for U.S. Soccer much longer.
John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty

If there was ever any doubt that there is bad blood between U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter and attacking midfielder Gio Reyna, a new report from ESPN about how sensitive information about an incident in the ’90s was leaked to U.S. Soccer appears to have put that issue to bed.

Criticized for only playing 20-year-old Reyna a total of 52 minutes in Qatar as the U.S. struggled on offense and scored just three goals in four games, Berhalter released a joint statement with his wife Rosalind on Twitter on Tuesday acknowledging a “shameful” incident that occurred 31 years ago when the two were in college the University of North Carolina.

“In the fall of 1991, I met my soulmate. I had just turned 18 and was a freshman in college when I met Rosalind,” Berhalter wrote in the statement. “One night, while out drinking at a local bar, Rosalind and I had a heated argument that continued outside. It became physical and I kicked her in the legs. There are zero excuses for my actions that night; it was a shameful moment and one that I regret to this day. The lessons learned from that night over three decades ago became the foundation for a loving, devoted, and supportive relationship, which we honored and celebrated with our 25th wedding anniversary this past weekend.”

Berhalter, who is now being investigated by U.S. Soccer and will be replaced by USMNT assistant coach Anthony Hudson during a January camp in California, said the probe into the incident began after an individual contacted U.S. Soccer during the World Cup last month saying they had information that would “take him down.”

According to ESPN, that individual was Gio Reyna’s father Claudio, a former USMNT captain who played youth and high school soccer with Berhalter before they both were on the U.S. national team from 1994 to 2006. Reyna, allegedly, reached out to U.S. Soccer on the same day Berhalter made references at a summit in front of a large group of people to “a player” nearly being sent home from the World Cup for not meeting expectations on and off the field. That player, of course, was Gio Reyna.

“Former United States men’s national team captain Claudio Reyna sent multiple messages to U.S. Soccer executives during the World Cup threatening to reveal sensitive details about USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s past,” per ESPN. “The messages began after his son, Gio Reyna, was informed he would have a limited role at the tournament.”

If true, this is a terrible look for U.S. Soccer on multiple levels, as it is basically the story of an angry father making threats to reveal damaging information about his longtime colleague and friend over his son’s playing time in a soccer match. Unfortunately for Berhalter, the elder Reyna followed through on those threats and damaged all involved.

UPDATE: Following ESPN’s initial report, Dannielle Reyna, Claudio’s wife and Gio’s mother, reported that she told U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart about Berhalter’s past domestic violence incident because she was frustrated by comments the coach made about her son after the World Cup.

Danielle Reyna said in a statement on Wednesday: “I thought it was especially unfair that Gio, who had apologized for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age.”

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!