Gio Reyna: 'A dream came true'

Less than seven months after he signed with Borussia Dortmund, 17-year-old Gio Reyna debuted with the Bundesliga, entering in the 72nd minute of Saturday's 5-3 win at Augsburg.

Reyna followed in the footsteps of his father, Claudio, who played at Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg in Germany at the start of his career, and another American, Christian Pulisic, who debuted for Dortmund four years ago and was sold to Chelsea for $73 million last year.

Claudio Reyna was a three-time national champion at Virginia and the 1992 and 1993 Soccer America Men's College Player of the Year when he signed with Leverkusen after the 1994 World Cup. But it wasn't until his second season that he played for the first team in the Bundesliga.

Gio's meteoric development resembles closely that of Pulisic's in 2015-16.

Both signed when they were 16, taking advantage of European passports to register before they were 18. Both were coming off their international debuts in the U-17 World Cup, where the USA bombed out in the first round.

But they both quickly caught the attention of Dortmund's first-team staff with strong play at the youth level. Reyna had eight goals and eight assists for the U-19s in the A-Junioren Bundesliga and UEFA Youth League. Reyna is 103 days younger than Pulisic was when he was named to Dortmund's matchday roster for the first time for a game against Fortuna Duesseldorf in December.

Reyna's debut on Saturday was not a surprise as he started and scored against Feyenoord in a friendly game against Feyenoord at winter camp in Spain and was promoted to the first-team roster. The debut makes him the youngest American to ever player in the Bundesliga and the fifth youngest player overall.

“A dream came true today," Reyna said. "It was a great game for us. When the coach called my name, I was so excited. I was nervous but the guys made me feel comfortable.”

Reyna came on for Thorgan Hazard two minutes after Dortmund, which had trailed 2-0 and 3-1, took the lead 4-3.

Erling Haaland, the 19-year-old Norwegian acquired from Salzburg, scored three goals in the first 23 minutes of his Bundesliga debut after coming on in the 56th minute. Reyna later had one chance, but put his shot wide.

Erling Haaland, whose father, Alf-Inge Haaland, played with Claudio Reyna at Manchester City in 2003 got all the attention, but Dortmund coach Lucien Favre made sure to note Gio Reyna's debut.

“It was very good," said Favre. "The first time he plays here at 17, that’s good. A 17-year-old, a 19-year-old, I think that’s good.”

Photo: Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire

12 comments about "Gio Reyna: 'A dream came true'".
  1. Seth Vieux, January 19, 2020 at 11:55 a.m.

    I'm just as excited about Reyna as I was Pulisic. Doesn't have the dynamic dribbling pace and 1v1 ability, but he's shockingly calm and confident for a teenager. Every time I've seen him play with the first team he's composed on the ball and making the smart movements with the ball and off the ball. He's still got a lot of work to do to match Pulisic's first Bundesliga season but it's starting to look like he'll be given that opportunity.

    It's easy to see too many similarities between them though. 17 y/o American playing on the right wing for Dortmund might be about where the real similarities end though. Reyna is much bigger physically, doesn't have that elite pace, and so far shows more patience than Pulisic. Think that all equals more versatility in how he may fit into the USMNT going forward. 

  2. Wooden Ships replied, January 19, 2020 at 4:56 p.m.

    Good analysis Seth.

  3. frank schoon, January 20, 2020 at 12:11 p.m.

    Ships, watch the 17year old playing for Ajax, he is #29. He ends up scoring the goal but look what he does all before the goal....His position is excellent, notice how he prepares to receive the pass, see how he moves the ball....


  4. frank schoon replied, January 20, 2020 at 12:17 p.m.

    Google it

  5. Wooden Ships replied, January 20, 2020 at 1:46 p.m.

    Frank, how can I google it without typing it all out? I'm on my I-Phone, SE 5, I think. 

  6. frank schoon replied, January 20, 2020 at 3:52 p.m.

    Yeah, that is a problem. I don't have a fancy phone to do it with only on the computer.

  7. Wooden Ships replied, January 20, 2020 at 5:50 p.m.

    I'll go to my laptop when I get a chance.

  8. frank schoon, January 20, 2020 at 12:15 p.m.

    Ships, watch #29 , a 17year old playing for Ajax. He scores the goal but watch what he does before all that. Note how positions himself off the ball, how he prepares himself before receiving the ball and moves the ball around

  9. Goal Goal, January 20, 2020 at 9:32 p.m.

    This young man is playing in the right league.  The Bundesliga plays at a steady pace far slower than England, Ajax or the Spanish leagues play.  The U17 World Cup showed our weakness in play.  The pace was far to fast for our kids to keep up with.  I see no comparison between Reyna and Pulisic.  Pulisic has speed and a far better technical ability and he has had a problem with the difference in the pace of the moving from Borussia to Chelsea.  

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, January 21, 2020 at 12:57 a.m.

    I am not sure what you mean. Are you talking about speed of play or the amount of time spent sprinting?

  11. Goal Goal, January 21, 2020 at 9:35 p.m.

    Bob, everyone knows US national team players have the stamina to out run a John Deere.  I am talking about speed of play and being able to perform under the pressure it creates.  The U17 World Cup was a prime example showing where we stand compared to international competition.

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, January 23, 2020 at 10:14 a.m.

    Granted I only watched a bit of the U17s, but the impression I took away was the Renya was fine, but the rest of the team failed to step up. I saw Renya trying to do it all by himself and predictably failing.

    I didn't see any problem with Renya's speed of play. I did see some some questionable decisions, but it's the players off the ball that dictate the tactical choices. Renya's young and I expect him to get much better.

    Probably watching him play with his club team would be a better setting to evaluate his play.

    As far as comparing leagues, I suspect that comparing the play at the bottom of the table is a better basis than comparing the quality of the big dollar teams at the top.

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