Although there is seemingly a US Soccer revolution upon us, Gio Reyna clinching his recent personal accolade was a certainty. The young American clinched US Soccer’s young player of the year award for 2020. At a time where nothing is certain in the current climate, thanks to Reyna’s breakout year in the Bundesliga, this almost was.
The 18-year-old former New York City FC product is no stranger to professional football, born in the North of England during his father’s stint at Sunderland AFC. Claudio Reyna, also of Rangers and Manchester City past, would have been forgiven for not foreseeing his son’s dramatic and steep rise throughout 2020.
GIO’S DORTMUND EMERGENCE
The Borrusia Dortmund debut for Gio Reyna came in January at the start of 2020, and he has impressed ever since. Equipped with an aura of composed assurance, and just like Marcus Rashford achieved on his competition debuts, Reyna really started to attract attention. Dortmund had another star on their hands.
Reyna’s debut DFB Pokal performance came against Werder Bremen a month later, where he scored a wonder of a strike. It was the American’s first professional goal – the type young boys and girls dream about. February would prove a pivotal month for Reyna, as he would also make his bow in the Champions League for Dortmund. His opponent? Paris Saint Germain.
Reyna seemed to treat the fixture like any other match, a nod towards his capabilities on the most prominent domestic stage of them all. Stepping onto the pitch clearly unphased, the Dortmund starlet laid on two assists, in a 2-1 victory. Reyna’s Dortmund career has continued in a similar vein.
The tricky youngster has started 17 out of Dortmund’s 26 games in the Bundesliga this season, featuring in 24. Reyna has also made the starting line up in four of the German’s six Champions League fixtures on the continent. Although just 18-years-old, he has forced himself into a starting position, with the level of competition around him consisting of Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, and Thorgan Hazard. Perhaps Reyna’s successfulness in muscling his way into the team has been his most impressive feat this year for someone just starting their professional career.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM GIO REYNA
Reyna operates in the space between the lines. The spatial awareness in the pocket is why Reyna is so effective, and a primary reason why he has been able to hold his own in professional football at a tender age. The ability to find such space and collect the ball on the turn is a manager’s dream, and more often than not, a headache for opponents.
Against PSG, Erling Braut Haaland’s winner was sculpted by Reyna’s prowess in this space, and his ability to receive the ball with his back to goal. Receiving the ball just inside his half, Reyna turns instantly, knowing he has the opportunity behind him to do so.
The progressive dribble which followed has become synonymous with Reyna’s overall game. Reyna was able to carry the ball at pace, before feeding Halaand who had a lot left to do. It was a goal worthy of winning any game, and an attacking sequence which highlighted Reyna’s array of offensive attributes.
A key passes total of 27 stands Reyna in the top six teenagers in Europe. Such a statistic proves that once in space between the lines, or receiving play in a transition phase, the American can pick out a teammate during an attack with regularity.
Delving a little deeper into Reyna’s passing output, the American has registered 28 passes into the penalty area in the current Bundesliga campaign. This ranks him as the 22nd best in the league, with his teammate Sancho leading the way with 76.
Reyna’s arsenal is equipped with all the tools needed to become successful for a sustained period on the biggest stage; creativity, bravery, awareness, and end product. US Soccer’s Young Player of the Year is unquestionably one of the world’s most exciting talents who finds himself at the perfect club.
His initial successes will likely transcend into the realms of the upper echelons of football for a decade and more if he can continue to hone his developing skillset and keep registering goal involvements. Who knows, maybe he’ll instead follow the path of the 2003′ US Young Player of the Year – Freddy Adu, albeit highly doubtful.