A simmering feud between two of the most high-profile families in American soccer spilled over into a full-blown scandal this week as out-of-contract United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter went public with details of a decades-old domestic violence incident that was recently brought to the attention of U.S. Soccer by the wife of one of his closest friends.
Danielle Reyna, the wife of U.S. soccer legend Claudio Reyna and mother of budding U.S. star Giovanni Reyna, announced Wednesday that she disclosed details of a 1991 incident — which involved her college roommate and Berhalter’s wife of 25 years, Rosalind — to U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart, triggering an independent investigation commissioned by the USSF.
The whole ordeal is one of the most bizarre episodes in American soccer history and one that appears to have been set into motion by something usually associated with youth sports: parents’ anger about their kid’s lack of playing time. Except, in this case, one of the parents (Claudio Reyna) is a former USMNT captain and National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee who played at four World Cups, and is a childhood friend and former teammate of Berhalter.
There’s a lot to unpack, but let’s look at how this all unfolded and what’s next for those involved.
The Berhalters and Reynas: From ‘like family’ to family feud
In American professional sports, few families have ever been as closely intertwined as these two. Claudio Reyna and Berhalter grew up together in New Jersey. In youth soccer, Claudio’s father was their coach. They were high school teammates at St. Benedict’s Prep, where they fielded the best team in the country for two years.
After they both played college soccer in the ACC (Reyna at Virginia, playing for Bruce Arena; Berhalter at North Carolina), they both embarked upon European careers. Both received their first USMNT cap in 1994, shared the pitch at the 2002 World Cup and played their last game with the national team in 2006. At North Carolina, Rosalind Berhalter (nee Santana) and Danielle Reyna (nee Egan) were four-year teammates, roommates and best friends. According to the United States National Soccer Team Players Association website, Reyna served as the best man in Berhalter’s wedding.
When Berhalter was hired as USMNT coach in 2018, U.S. Soccer prominently displayed Reyna’s glowing comments about his friend in a written feature, and that relationship extended to their respective sons. In June, Berhalter told ESPN’s “The Gab & Juls Show” that when he coaches Gio, “It’s almost like you’re putting a family member in the game.”
And interestingly enough, Claudio Reyna, in his capacity as the Austin FC sporting director, signed Berhalter’s son, Sebastian, from the Columbus Crew on loan for the 2021 MLS season. However, Reyna did not exercise the option to make the loan permanent, with Sebastian now in Vancouver.