Gio Reyna celebrates dream European debut with game-winning assist

Erling Haaland

's two goals in Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 win over Paris St. Germain in his Dortmund debut in the UEFA Champions League came as no surprise.

They made the 19-year-old Norwegian the quickest player ever to score 10 Champions League goals as the two goals followed eight goals last fall for Red Bull Salzburg last fall in the group stage, giving him 10 in only seven games. The two goals also gave him 11 goals in seven games since he joined Dortmund in January. (He's scored in all but one game.)

But another teenager burst on the European scene Tuesday night: 17-year-old Gio Reyna -- the son of former U.S. national team captain Claudio Reyna -- set up Haaland's winning goal.

Reyna joined Dortmund for winter training in Spain. He was expected to slowly be introduced into the first team but has come on off the bench in every game since play resumed in mid-January.

At 17 years and 97 days, Reyna became the youngest American to ever play in the Champions League, entering Tuesday's game in the 68th minute.

The goals came fast and furious after Reyna came on. Haaland scored his first goal in the 69th minute, Neymar equalized in the 75th minute -- after Kylian Mbappe roasted Reyna and teammate Dan-Axel Zagadou down the right wing -- then Dortmund went ahead again on Haaland's second goal.

Reyna received the ball on the PSG side of midfield, spun and dashed ahead of two PSG defenders before finding Haaland on the left side. The Norwegian needed only one touch before blasting his shot into the roof of the goal past helpless PSG keeper Keylor Navas.

"A lot of emotions are going through my head right now," Reyna told reporters after the game. "To get my Champions League debut against Paris was a dream come true for me. To get an assist was even better. We knew Paris are such a good team. And the result is the most important thing."

Since Reyna signed last summer, Dortmund management has had him on the fast track.

At first, it seemed Dortmund brought Reyna on its summer tour of the United States as a marketing ploy. But it was quickly apparent he fit in. This was kicker's assessment only seven month ago:

"He doesn't look like a normal 16 year old. It is therefore not so easy to discover him immediately among the other BVB professionals. Visually, he doesn't stand out. He is tall, athletically built and equipped with calf muscles that cause appreciative astonishment even for sporting director Michael Zorc."

After winter training in Marbella,  Zorc said Reyna was ready for the first team: "We want to develop him to a full-fledged player of Borussia Dortmund."

Dortmund finished Tuesday's game with three teenagers on the field together up front: 19-year-old Englishman Jadon Sancho, Haaland and Reyna, who also drew a yellow on veteran Belgian defender Thomas Meunier, which will keep in out of the second leg at the Parc des Princes on March 11.

"We don't buy superstars," said Dortmund youth director Lars Ricken. "We make them."

Photo by RHR-Foto/Imago/Icon Sportswire
14 comments about "Gio Reyna celebrates dream European debut with game-winning assist".
  1. Bob Ashpole, February 19, 2020 at 7:19 a.m.

    So young. I wish them all success and happiness.

  2. Wooden Ships, February 19, 2020 at 9:26 a.m.

    I hope our senior team will do a better job of welcoming him than they did CP? I suspect they will in part due to some of the roster changes and/or retirements. Already, he can draw defenders and find players in space as well as anyone, not to mention having soft feet. Hopefully, we are past this notion that he must pay his dues and we must gradually integrate him. Great future ahead. 

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, February 19, 2020 at 12:33 p.m.

    I wish I was as optimistic as you, WS. I do agree that the future will be better than the last cycle.

  4. Seth Vieux, February 19, 2020 at 1:43 p.m.

    Been paying attention to this kid for a little over a year now and am really optimistic for his future. His assist is a great teaching tool on the importance of properly receiving the ball that Frank Schoon frequently talks about. He makes the important adjustment in body shape as the ball is played to him to open up and recieve on his most-advanced right foot which allows him to immediately take the larger touch into space with the second touch followed by an excellent pass with his third touch that is also on Haaland's most advanced left foot as he runs forward that enables him to make a two touch finish. In both cases if the ball were received with the least-advanced foot (Reyna's left or Haaland's right) there is no goal scored. If Reyna improperly receives on his left foot he cannot immediately attack the spacec that unlocks the defense, and if the pass is just a touch behind forcing Haaland to try to pull it in front of him with his right he would need to make a tremendously more difficult touch and adjustment of his footwork/balance to be able to finish on the second touch. And if Haaland requires three touches the keeper has that post covered with the extra miliseconds to second required to find his bi-secting line.

  5. Wooden Ships replied, February 19, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.

    Absolutely Seth.

  6. frank schoon replied, February 20, 2020 at 9:36 a.m.

    It was all in all a nice play with the right velocity on the pass by Reyna. But what I also liked about Haaland is the first touch on the ball from Reyna's pass. Notice the hesitation of Haaland's left foot, that is the big clue and secret. If it was one of our boys, they would have hit the ball with the left foot on the run without the hesitation , ricocheting the ball too far ahead him and possible letting the goalie to get. it..In other words, Haaland allowed the ball to hit a 'dead' foot therby dampening the extra energy...
    I didn't watch the game, too bad, I should have...

    Note , Haaland is very efficient in his movement of play, never wasting an extra movement. Everything he does is in relation to wanting to score a goal, he's extremely goal oriented in his movement...He has the same qualities of a van Basten who likewise did everything in relation to scoring the goal. The only difference is that Van Basten had better 1v1 skills.

    I like to see how Haaland plays against a tight defense, a la Italians, that don't give away space like PSG did, I mean just look at how much space Reyna had at midfield, and where Haaland is positioned

  7. Seth Vieux replied, February 20, 2020 at 1:05 p.m.

    Frank that's a pretty good comparison in Van Basten (also a boyhood favorite), and agree we definitely haven't yet seen Haaland demonstrate 1v1 ability off the dribble like Van Basten...though that's primarily because he's been able to find the spaces for 1 and 2 touch finishes on I believe every single one of his 11 goals in 7 games in a Dortmund shirt. He first popped on my radar when he scored NINE goals in a single game at the U-20 WC last summer, and IIRC that highlight clip showed most if not all 9 goals also being on 1-2 touches.

    As to the space Reyna was able to exploit on this particular goal, PSG were pressing really high in pursuit of their own game winning goal and the penetrating pass to break the press combined with two important factors made them pay for it: 1) as already mentioned Reyna makes the important adjustment in his body shape to properly receive the pass and 2) Haaland is a proper #9 who always maintains a position on the field as HIGH and CENTRAL as possible to keep the opponent's lines of defense spread and creating space for the midfielders and wings to operate in. I am constantly imploring my #9s to play as high and centrally as possible for this exact same reason - to make life easier on the rest of the team, especially the central midfielders.

  8. frank schoon replied, February 20, 2020 at 3:22 p.m.

    Seth, I didn't become aware of Haaland until a couple of weeks ago watching a highlight of Dortmunt scoring a goal. As I stated before, I like to see him play a team who lines are closer together and not allow so much space to run into. Furthermore, I like to figure out which players on Dortmunt at midfield tend to pass to him as a standard pattern. Preventing them or reducing their passes to Haaland ,I like to see what he'll do. Sofar ,all the goals come from open runs. How does react with his back to the goal. 

    He's from Norway which is not a country known for good 1v1 skills. It is more of a  team effort play and running. He fits better into German style which based on running in their game. What I do like about him that shows no qualms of taking the ball and go, he little or no riskaversion when having the ball which is refreshing.

    Note in that game where Reyna receives the ball at midfield, the defensive of PSG was awful. If you going to pressure up front than have cover the midfielders of the opponent and not give them 5meters to receive the ball and allow Reyna to position behind two opponents making a pass to Reyna between two opponents at one time

  9. Seth Vieux replied, February 20, 2020 at 4:09 p.m.

    Frank I'm also curious to see what he's got in the tool kit for playing with his back to goal in the box. I tend to assume based on his frame, nose for goal, and demonstrated ball striking ability that he's got the potential to be very good at this as well, but even having seen just about all of his mimnutes for Dortmund, can't say for sure if they're there. Dortmund have not really asked that of their #9 too much since Lewandowski though, as Aubamayang, Shurrle, Alcacer, etc are all center forwards that relied a lot more on pace and running in behind than playing with their back to goal as a target man. I think you have to give him at least a little credit for his movements that create space for himself too though.

  10. Seth Vieux replied, February 20, 2020 at 4:14 p.m.

    All 10 UCL goals on 1-2 touches, and only one through the air, something you think he'd be targeted for a lot more.

  11. Seth Vieux replied, February 20, 2020 at 4:22 p.m.

    6 of 8 goals on 1-2 touches

    1 on 4 touches at 2:00 after running into ACRES of space

    1 on 3 touches at 3:00 after running in behind

  12. Seth Vieux replied, February 20, 2020 at 4:33 p.m.

    Much larger sample size (and one hell of a big sample size for a 19 year old):

    Starts with his incredible 9 goal match in U-20 WC, only 3 x 3 touch goals on his 5th, 8th, and 9th

    On 23 goals for Salzburg: 1 x 4 touch goal at 2:25 and 1 x 3 touch goal at 3:35, otherwise the rest on 1-2 touches and only two of them through the air... Donj't know if anyone can compete with this guy's goals per touch ratio!

  13. frank schoon replied, February 20, 2020 at 5:15 p.m.

    Seth, we'll see. The way I look at it is that he is good facing goal, meaning his dynamics is set for forward movement and that's where he's been succesfull at. Playing with his back to the goal for such a big guy makes it tougher on the turns with the ball. Tall players have more problems in that type of scenario. Furthermore , if you are familiar with Dortmunt style of play it is more of a run, run ,run rather than playing the ball to the forward with his back turned to goal wait for midfielders to come and pass back to...To me his game is more direct towards the goal, he's like the end station and for that to make him effective is for him to be facing the goal....

  14. Ric Fonseca, February 19, 2020 at 1:44 p.m.

    Nice going for him!  BUT.... why am I/we getting a double dose of the articles in other SA daily editions???

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