17-year-old Gio Reyna to join US national team
NEW YORK — Gio Reyna is following his father to the U.S. national team.
The 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder will be invited to the American training camp ahead of exhibitions on March 26 at the Netherlands and four days later at Wales.
"We want our younger players performing, playing at a high level, and he's doing that," U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said Wednesday. "As a result of that he gets an opportunity with the first team."
Reyna turned 17 in November and made his senior team debut for Dortmund on Jan. 18 in the Bundesliga at Augsburg. He scored his first goal Feb. 4 in a German Cup match at Werder Bremen and on Feb. 18 became the youngest American to appear in a European Champions League match when he entered in the second half against Paris Saint-Germain.
He has appeared in eight games for Dortmund, all as a substitute.
"What I really like from him was his positioning," Berhalter said. “When he gets the ball in the pocket, his awareness to turn and his efficiency in when he's turning is excellent — doesn't waste any touches turning. He turns right away. Second thing is his ball security under pressure is phenomenal.”
Reyna was part of the U.S. team at last year's Under-17 World Cup. Berhalter said it would not be possible to have Dortmund release Reyna to play for the U.S. Under-23 team in Olympic qualifying next month.
Reyna's father, Claudio, scored eight goals in 112 appearances for the U.S. from 1994 to 2006, appearing in three World Cups. Gio Reyna's mother, Danielle Egan Reyna, scored one goal in six appearances for the U.S. in 2003.
Gio Reyna would be the sixth-youngest player to appear for the U.S. senior team since its accurate age records began in 1990, according to U.S. Soccer Federation. Freddy Adu was the youngest at 16.
The Reynas would be what is thought to be the sixth father-son pair to play for the U.S. after Jim and George Brown, Harry and Ty Keough, Joe and Philip Gyau, Joe and Alain Maca, and Tim and Taylor Twellman.
Reyna would follow another young Dortmund star to the national team. Midfielder Christian Pulisic was 17 when he made his U.S. debut in March 2016 and has become the top American player. Reyna can play wide on both sides and also is viewed by Berhalter as a possible central attacking midfielder.
“He can play in a number of different positions. I like him being able to affect the game on the offensive side, similar to Christian," Berhalter said. “I think he gives you flexibility. ”
Pulisic, sold to Chelsea last year for a 64 million euro (then $73 million) transfer fee, has not played since Jan. 1 because of an adductor injury.
"As Christian adapts to the rigors of the Premier League, I think he's going to be fine," Berhalter said. “We're confident that Chelsea together with us is going to get him in a spot where he's performing regularly.”
RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams has not played since Feb. 9 because of a calf injury. The 21-year-old transferred in January 2019 from Major League Soccer's Red Bulls to Leipzig. He injured a groin during the German Cup final on May 25 and did not return until Dec 21.
“Any time you have younger players playing at high levels, you have to be very careful with their load,” Berhalter said. “He had basically a year-and-a-half without rest, adapted to a higher level in a very aggressive playing style, and that could take a toll on a young player's body. And you saw some of the effects of that with his longer-term layoff. With him, now, the way I see, he's got back to playing, and until your body hardens and strengthens, you may have some some difficulties.”
Forward Tim Weah, a 20-year-old son of current Liberia President and former FIFA Player of the Year George Weah, has played just two matches in his first season with Lille. He was sidelined from Aug. 17 until Feb. 16 by a torn hamstring, then tore a hamstring in his return match.
“It's a really unfortunate series of events. We have a very high-speed athlete, a fast athlete, that they're susceptible to hamstring injuries,” Berhalter said. “It may be another lengthy layoff.”
The U.S. also lost D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola, who had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ACL and likely will miss the MLS season and the first six World Cup qualifiers.
Berhalter said defender Reggie Cannon and midfielder Jackson Yueill will be at Olympic qualifying in Mexico next month rather than with the national team.
-- By Ronald Blum, AP
Rossi signs with Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake
SANDY, Utah — Forward Giuseppe Rossi signed Thursday with Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake, 21 months after his last competitive match.
The 33-year-old from Clifton, New Jersey, had spent his entire professional career in Europe after moving when he was 12 to join Parma's youth academy. He has been derailed by five major knee injuries.
Rossi played for Manchester United (2004-06), Newcastle (2006), Parma (2007), Villarreal (2007-12), Fiorentina (2013-17), Levante (2016), Celta Vigo (2016-17) and Genoa (2017-18).
His career was interrupted when he tore his right ACL against Real Madrid on Oct. 26, 2011, then re-tore the ligament during training on April 13, 2012. He returned with Fiorentina in May 2013 on the final day of the season and led Serie A with 14 goals in 17 matches when he sprained the medial collateral ligament in the knee against Livorno on Feb. 5, 2014.
Rossi was sidelined until the Italian Cup final in May, then damaged knee cartilage in August and was out for another year. While playing for Celta Vigo, he tore his left ACL against Eibar on April 9, 2017, and was sidelined until December, when he made his debut for Genoa.
He tested positive in May 2018 for an eye-pressure medication that is on the banned list. In October, he drew a warning rather than a one-year suspension because his use was found to be unintentional, according to his lawyer. Rossi took more than a year before signing with MLS.
Of Italian heritage, Rossi chose to play for the Azzurri rather than the United States and scored seven goals in 30 appearances. He also won the golden boot with four goals at the 2008 Olympics, a tournament limited mostly to players under 23.
US Olympic marketing chief Lisa Baird is NWSL commissioner
The marketing executive who branded the U.S. Olympic squad “Team USA” will now try to turn American women’s soccer players into household names more than once every four years.
Lisa Baird, the longtime marketing chief at the U.S. Olympic Committee, was named commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League on Thursday.
Baird most recently spent more than a year at New York Public Radio after nine years at the USOC. She will now be charged with running a league that is positioned to capture more cash and eyeballs after America’s stirring World Cup victory last summer.
The nine-team league, founded in 2013, got its first official beer sponsor last year when it signed a deal with Budweiser. Attendance rose to an average of 7,337 in 2019 — a nearly 22% increase over the previous year, much of which could have been attributed to a post-World Cup boost.
Baird said commercial partnerships in the Olympics can have "deeper, more profound platforms” in part because there are Summer or Winter Games every two years.
“I'm confident I can bring that same kind of dynamic to the NWSL. We want to shine a spotlight on the terrific players in this league," she told The Associated Press.
NWSL is trying to complete an agreement for an improved TV deal. A&E cut its contract short by a year at the start of 2019, and ESPN stepped in to televise 14 games to close out last season.
“We know that having the right coverage, the games, the clubs, is important going forward,” Baird said. “I’m confident the owners have done an incredible search and had the right conversations with the right partners.”
Baird joins a sport that has been dealing with pay equity issues that were underscored during the World Cup.
Players on the U.S. women’s team are seeking more than $66 million in damages as part of a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer that alleges they are unfairly paid compared to the men. Some of those players, including Megan Rapinoe, also play in the NWSL. Though the league has a management agreement with the U.S. federation, it is not involved in that lawsuit.
Separately, the league increased its salary cap by nearly 20% for 2020, to $650,000 a team, and increased its minimum salary to $20,000. It also introduced “allocation money,” which allows teams to pay more than the league maximum of $50,000 as a way of competing with European teams for top players.
Before going to the USOC, Baird was senior vice president of marketing and licensing for the NFL, where she helped the league land first-time deals with Nike, Under Armour and Fanatics. Before that, she held the same position at IBM.
At the USOC, Baird cut about $1 billion worth of deals over nearly a decade and also rebranded the team to Team USA. Though the NWSL won't generate as much sponsorship, she's confident there are fundamentals she can bring from the Olympic world to women's soccer.
“This league has an incredible ability to have players stand for a purpose and passion because of who they are and who they represent, and how exciting women’s sports are in the U.S. right now,” Baird said.
-- By Eddie Pells, AP