In USMNT drama, Reynas show they’re the worst kind of soccer parents

For some reason, Claudio and Danielle Reyna decided to just come out and admit it: They were the ones who tried to blackmail Gregg Berhalter.

It’s hard to imagine how they thought that releasing these statements, full of false equivalence, gaslighting, pettiness and vindictiveness, served their interests better than doing, well, pretty much anything else.

A day before the Reynas’ statements, Berhalter was forced to reveal details of a 1991 domestic violence incident involving his now-wife Rosalind, saying an unnamed ‘individual contacted U.S. Soccer, saying that they had information about me that would ‘take me down.”

The people trying to take him down, it turned out, included his former high school and USMNT teammate who also happened to be the best man at his wedding. And it was all over a fundamental issue that plagues American soccer, from the highest levels down to the grassroots: parents doing dumb things because they’re mad about their kid’s playing time.

The Reynas, though, have taken this particular tradition to a new level. For one, it took place during the bright spotlight of a World Cup. More importantly, though, it involved digging up the traumatic details of a story that didn’t belong to them, and bringing it into the cold, hard light of public view.

‘To set the record straight, I did call (U.S. Soccer sporting director) Earnie Stewart on December 11, just after the news broke that Gregg had made negative statements about my son Gio at a leadership conference,’ Danielle Reyna said in a statement to Fox Sports and The Athletic.

‘I told Earnie that 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.’

It gets worse.

‘Without going into detail, the statements from yesterday significantly minimize the abuse on the night in question,’ Danielle adds, further destroying the Berhalters’ privacy in a cynical invitation for any interested parties to keep digging.

The kicker though, was Danielle’s sorry attempt to feign innocence.

‘I want to be very clear that I did not ask for Gregg to be fired, I did not make any threats, and I don’t know anything about any blackmail attempts, nor have I ever had any discussions about anyone else on Gregg’s staff-I don’t know any of the other coaches.’

This claim is somewhat undercut by her own admission that she revealed this information as a direct response to Berhalter’s treatment of her son. If she wasn’t trying to get Berhalter fired or blackmail him, what exactly was she trying to do?

In his statement, Claudio Reyna didn’t get to the same level of detail as his wife, but he did, in his words, ‘support my wife, Danielle, and her statement.’ This will certainly be an interesting situation to navigate for Austin FC, where Claudio is currently the sporting director. 

In a sad irony, the Reynas seem to have accomplished the exact opposite of what they intended. Rather than defend their son, they have unnecessarily exposed him to one of the bigger scandals in American soccer history.

Gio appears to have been an innocent bystander while his parents helicoptered in and hung a millstone around his neck, guaranteeing he’ll be questioned about this by fans, media and teammates for some time.

There really are no winners in this whole affair, which was all just so frustratingly unnecessary. The lesson is one that anyone involved in American soccer, at any level, probably already knew: never underestimate how low a scorned parent is willing to go.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY