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Soccer dads gone wild: behind the stunning Reyna-Berhalter family feud | USA

Soccer dads gone wild: behind the stunning Reyna-Berhalter family feud | USA

uS-football has many forces working against its success. The country shunned the sport after the 1930s, leaving a withered and winless national men’s team. Even after years of progress, soccer lags behind homegrown sports in a crowded market.

Add a more powerful force to this list.

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Also add your close cousin, snowplow parentingterm that refers to those parents who touch any obstacle in front of their children.

The obstacle of the day is Gregg Berhalter, the former and possibly future head coach of the men’s national team. The parents are Hall of Fame player Claudio Reyna and his wife, Danielle, a roommate and teammate of Berhalter’s wife at the University of North Carolina women’s soccer program.

And the boy, although he is 20 years old, is Gio Reyna, the Borussia Dortmund striker who flew into a rage for days after Berhalter told him he would have a limited role at the World Cup. Reyna finally arrived, and played the second half when the American team were eliminated of the World Cup in a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands.

On Tuesday, Berhalter issued a statement admitted to kicking his future wife’s legs in an alcohol-fueled argument in 1991 when they were both student-athletes at the University of North Carolina. He added these startling words: “During the World Cup, a person contacted US Soccer, saying he had information about me that would ‘take me down’.”

To no one’s surprise, the Reyna family admitted on Wednesday that they had informed the federation about the 31-year-old incident, although they denied making any threats. They had a chance, given that Claudio Reyna and Berhalter were national teammates of USSF Athletic Director Earnie Stewart and USA Men’s General Manager Brian McBride. And they had reason to, given not only Gio Reyna’s scant playing time, but Comments from Berhalter at a Dec. 6 conference on moral leadership, in which he said he almost sent off a player during the World Cup before reconciling.

The contents of that conference were not intended to be made public. Nor did Berhalter name the player in question. And yet Gio Reyna all but confirmed the day after he called himself a player, and Danielle Reyna confirmed on Wednesday that the the comments motivated her to reveal the 1991 Berhalter incident, which she says was worse than Berhalter is letting on.

On Tuesday, the same day Berhalter released his statement, US Soccer alerted the public, saying they hired outside investigators as soon as they learned of the incident on Dec. 11. That investigation has since morphed: “Through this process, US Soccer has learned of potential inappropriate behavior toward various members of our staff by individuals outside of our organization.”

Beleaguered U.S. soccer officials, accustomed to being the referee, the instigator or the instigator in controversies large and small, declined on a conference call Wednesday to elaborate.

Bottom line: The Reynas said nothing about a physical fight between Berhalter and his future wife for more than three decades, but they mentioned it to U.S. Soccer officials after learning that Berhalter had mentioned in a private conference call that since then he had solved problems with a player other than himself. he did not identify who had little playing time for most of the World Cup.

In other words, the Reynas acted like America’s typical soccer dads.

Claudio Reyna (right) and Gregg Berhalter, second from right, practice with the US men’s national team during the 2002 World Cup at the Misari Football Center in Seoul, South Korea. Photograph: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Every youth soccer parent, coach, and referee knows these parents. They’re the ones gushing about their kids’ new youth club in August and then ranting against it when they leave in May. They are the ones who intimidate coaches into substituting players at almost every stoppage in the game, lest a player be sidelined for more than a few minutes. They are the ones who gossip on anonymous message boards to trash coaches and clubs.

Of course, complaints about playing time in sports aren’t exactly breaking news. But if there was a World Cup for this problem, the United States would surely have a trophy case full.

Woe betide the coach who keeps the wrong player out of the lineup for any team, from the under-9s to the national, men’s and women’s teams.

Woe to the referee who crosses a women’s national team player who feels emboldened by a sycophantic fan base not only to argue with the referees but to humiliate them.

Woe to the youth soccer coach who fails to achieve the sometimes conflicting goals of winning trophies and turning kids into prized players who can win everything from a spot at the local high school varsity to a professional opportunity.

This is, after all, a country where parents took advantage of preferential college admissions for athletes to making the exploits of his childrenpart of a series of events exhibited under the general title Operation Varsity Blues.

It’s also a country where players grow up and see nothing wrong with taking a step up 90% of the prize money the men will win the 2022 World Cup and the women will win the 2023 World Cup, all while grassroots organizations it boils down to watching the rich get richer. (On a media conference call about the deal, I asked representatives of both teams if they plan to build bridges with those who work with youth and fans. Silence.)

And it’s a culture that rewards players who believe they don’t need to listen to coaches or critics. In women’s soccer, the fan base has adopted the attitude that the players are always right, while the coaches, league officials and referees are always wrong. In men’s football, players are less immune to criticism, but have come through a youth system that too often coddles them, perhaps to the detriment of their performance.

“Are you going to continue to be a bunch of bland, underachieving, tattooed millionaires?” Alexi Lalas asked in 2017 when the men were teetering on the brink of failing to qualify for the World Cup.

But eventually, it comes back to the parents. Not all parents. Not all players. But too much

The investigation of Berhalter and any related business could take months. In the meantime, US Soccer must decide whether to offer Berhalter a new contract or look elsewhere. The federation has already shown that it can drag out these decisions more than a year.

So by dragging Berhalter, the Reynas can also drag the federation that Claudio Reyna represented so well and Gio Reyna can still do the same. Those involved in youth football have seen it all before. The ironic aspect of the term “snow plows” is that these snow plows leave scorched earth.

At the heart of the matter here are two families, once closely intertwined, torn apart by an argument over playing time and a player’s attitude.

As we see in youth football every day.





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