U.S. national team coach Gregg Berhalter said his “heart aches” for his wife amid the controversy with the Reyna family that has gripped U.S. soccer.
“The worst part of it for me is that my heart aches for my wife, you know, because it was her story to tell, if she chose to or not,” he said during an appearance on the Harvard Business Review’s “New World of Work” podcast Thursday.
On Tuesday, Berhalter, who led the U.S. team at the recent Qatar World Cup but whose contract has not been renewed, described how someone allegedly approached the U.S. Soccer Federation during the tournament with information about his past in an attempt to get him fired.
In a statement, Berhalter described an incident between him and his now-wife, Rosalind, that happened when he was 18. “One night, while out drinking at a local bar, Rosalind and I had a heated argument that continued outside,” he said. “It became physical and I kicked her in the legs.”
The following day, it was reported that Danielle Reyna, the mother of U.S. national team player Gio Reyna, was the person who told U.S. Soccer about the 1990s domestic-violence incident involving Berhalter. U.S. Soccer subsequently launched an investigation, which is ongoing, into the incident.
In a lengthy statement reported by the Athletic, Danielle Reyna described her anger at negative comments about her son that Berhalter made at a leadership conference. Danielle Reyna’s husband, former U.S. national team star Claudio Reyna, also provided a statement to The Athletic, saying he supports his wife and was also upset by Berhalter’s comments about Gio Reyna.
Speaking on Thursday’s podcast, Berhalter said he feels sadness at how the events of the last few days have unfolded. “Our entire family is saddened by these events, something that we want to move forward from,” he told host Adi Ignatius. “The events of that night 31 years ago, and the lessons learned from that, basically set the foundation for our relationship moving forward, and it’s a loving relationship, a devoted relationship, and we have four amazing kids to show for it,” he said.
ESPN reported that U.S. Soccer was told about the domestic-violence incident on the same day that Berhalter appeared at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York and made comments in which he described how a player was nearly sent home from the World Cup for not meeting expectations on and off the field.
While Berhalter did not identify the player, Gio Reyna confirmed in an Instagram post the following day that it was a reference to him.
Berhalter’s comments at the HOW Institute event were made under the Chatham House Rule for discussing sensitive topics. While information received can be shared, the identity of the speaker and their affiliation should not be revealed, according to the rule.
During the podcast, Berhalter was asked whether he wished he had handled any aspects of the controversy differently. “It’s a good question,” he responded. “I guess, when you reference the HOW Institute and you reference that talk. … If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have told that story.”
Berhalter said the story brought “too much unwarranted attention” to something that was, overall, a “shining example” of team culture and teamwork, referring to the U.S. team at the World Cup. “So that would be something that I would go back and change, for sure,” he said.
Berhalter, a former U.S. national team defender, was appointed head coach in late 2018. Hired to breathe new life into the team after its failure to qualify for that year’s World Cup, he guided the U.S. to the CONCACAF Nations League title in 2019-2020 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021, as well as through a successful World Cup qualifying campaign. The U.S. soccer team was knocked out of the Qatar World Cup by the Netherlands, which won its round of 16 clash 3-1 on Dec. 3.
The coach’s contract with U.S. Soccer expired on Dec. 31, 2022, according to reports.
On Wednesday, U.S. Soccer announced that assistant coach Anthony Hudson will serve as head coach for the national team’s upcoming training camp in Carson, Calif.
During a media conference call on Wednesday, U.S. Soccer’s sporting director, Earnie Stewart, confirmed that Berhalter is still under consideration for the post of head coach of the U.S. national team.
Berhalter said Thursday that he would be interested in leading the team again.
“It’s a fantastic group of players, a super high potential in this group, and we’re competing in the World Cup in North America in 2026, so it would be an amazing challenge for this team,” he said during the podcast. “There’s a lot of great challenges involved, and of course I’d like to continue in my role.”
The ties between the Reyna and Berhalter families are deep. Danielle Reyna was the college roommate and soccer teammate of Rosalind Berhalter at the University of North Carolina. Gregg Berhalter and Claudio Reyna, who have known each other since childhood, are former teammates on the U.S. national soccer team. Reyna served as best man at Berhalter’s wedding to Rosalind, according to the U.S. National Team Soccer Team Players Association’s website.
Several former U.S. national team players have expressed their shock and sadness at the controversy.