NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gio Reyna ran to the corner flag with a wide smile, then hugged Christian Pulisic and more American teammates. About a half-hour later, Reyna did it again and jumped with an arm overhead in front of the fans and tapping his chest for emphasis.
Reyna scored his first two international goals since a family feud with coach Gregg Berhalter erupted at last year’s World Cup, leading the United States to a 4-0 rout of Ghana in an exhibition on Tuesday night.
“Gio, what I’ve seen from training session number one in this camp was extreme amount of focus and ability,” Berhalter said. “So when he plays like that, like he did this entire camp, he’s certainly a guy that can help this group, and it’s really good to see him respond like that.”
Reyna put the U.S. ahead in the 10th minute, Pulisic doubled the lead with a penalty kick in the 19th, and Folarin Balogun scored in the 22nd to give the Americans three goals in a 12-minute span. Reyna scored again in the 39th for sixth international goal and first two-goal game for the U.S.
“Besides the goals, it was how he brings players into the attack,” Berhalter said, “how he is able to be calm on the ball and gives us that calm and the poise that we need at times but then is decisive when making final passes.”
Reyna told the U.S. Soccer Federation after the game that he did not want to speak with reporters. He has not spoken with media following national team matches since the World Cup.
Reyna has been regaining fitness since fracturing a leg last June and played the first half for the second straight match. The 20-year-old midfielder’s first game under Berhalter since the controversy was Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Germany.
A son of former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna and American midfielder Danielle Egan, Gio Reyna was limited to a pair of substitute appearances in Qatar. Berhalter said during a management conference after the tournament he nearly sent a player home from for lack of effort during training, remarks clearly about Reyna.
Reyna’s parents contacted the USSF about a three-decades-old domestic violence allegation involving Berhalter and the woman who later became his wife. Berhalter was replaced by a pair of interim coaches and, after a law firm retained by the USSF determined he did not improperly withhold information when he was hired in 2018, was rehired in June to resume coaching in September.
After the U.S. started his second term with four friendlies, Berhalter leads the Americans in a two-leg CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal next month against Trinidad and Tobago. The winner gets a berth in next year’s Copa América.
“We’re still learning. We’re still adapting to the game,” Tim Weah said. “We’re on the path that we’re rising and we’re doing well.”
Ghana eliminated the U.S. from the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and the Americans opened the 2014 tournament with a win over the Black Stars. The 11th-ranked U.S. matched its highest victory margin against an African opponent, set against South Africa in 2000.
The Americans went ahead after Sergiño Dest dribbled toward goal and passed wide to Balogun, whose cross bounced off defender Nicholas Opoku. The ball fell to Reyna, who one-timed a right-foot shot from about 12 yards for his first U.S. goal since June 2021.
Pulisic converted the penalty kick for his 28th international goal after Gideon Mensah pushed Weah.
Weah created the third goal when, with the U.S. pressing, Jerome Opoku failed to control a pass on a flank. Weah picked up the ball and centered to Balogun, who spun as he took a touch and scored from the middle of the penalty area for his third goal in six appearances.
Reyna got his second goal from an indirect free kick 10 yards out, awarded when Opoku sat on the ball. Standing next to Reyna, Bologun poked the ball 2 feet to Pulisic, who tapped to Reyna, and he kicked the ball into the roof of the net.
American goalkeeper Matt Turner had little pressure but extended to parry Mohammed Kudus’ 41st-minute shot over the crossbar.
Lennard Maloney, a 24-year-old midfielder born in Germany, entered in the 65th minute for the 60th U.S. debut under Berhalter.
No. 60 Ghana was coming off a 2-0 defeat against Mexico and has lost consecutive games after a five-match unbeaten streak under Chris Hughton, who took over as coach in February. The Black Stars open World Cup qualifying next month.
The U.S. gets an automatic World Cup berth as one of the co-hosts.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer