11 November 2020

Sunderland-born star Giovanni Reyna’s rapid rise set to continue with USA debut

11 November 2020

Teenager Giovanni Reyna is set for his United States debut against Wales on Thursday but will not let Christian Pulisic’s absence impact his preparation.

The latest step on the 17-year-old’s meteoric rise will see national team head coach Gregg Berhalter hand the Borussia Dortmund youngster some game time in Swansea.

He will not be joined on the pitch by Chelsea attacker Pulisic, however, after a thigh injury ruled the winger out of action.

Reyna, the son of former Manchester City midfielder Claudio, said: “I have to play my game like I always try to do with Dortmund.

“I think if I can emulate what I have done with Dortmund so far here then I can be successful here too.

“Of course we will miss Christian, he is such a good player and offers so much for us. It’s unfortunate he can’t play but for me it has always been about trying to help the team, get involved and obviously try to score goals and assist.

“He can do that too but I will just try to help the team any way possible.”

Born in Sunderland, Reyna could have played for England and had that been the case he may have potentially joined Dortmund team-mates Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions set-up.

I think if I can emulate what I have done with Dortmund so far here then I can be successful here too

Along with Norway star Erling Haaland, the foursome are viewed as the next generation at the Bundesliga club.

“It is really fun, it gives us all an aspect of almost playing as kids and at youth level and we can have a laugh and joke around,” Reyna added.

“We have a good time together on and off the field and of course they are all really good players and easy to play with.”

Although only due to celebrate his 18th birthday on Friday, Reyna has made quite the impression on his fellow countrymen.

Juventus loanee Weston McKennie admitted the one-time New York City youth caught the eye since the group got together.

Weston McKennie, left, made his national team debut for the USA as a teenager (PA Archive)

“He has adapted really well. You can see it in training, I can play combinations with him, he is quick on the ball and he is doing what he is doing and excelling which is really amazing for a kid of his age,” McKennie insisted.

The 22-year-old McKennie moved to the Serie A club this summer on a loan deal from Schalke and even though he is expected to face old team-mate Rabbi Matondo at the Liberty Stadium, he will not do battle with Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who is out with a thigh problem.

McKennie added: “He had a joke with me before I left and was like ‘you are lucky I won’t be there, you would be chasing my shadow’ so definitely a little bit of banter there.

“We are pretty close at Juventus and it would have been awesome to play against him, but I also have one of my old former team-mates, Rabbi Matondo here as well, so I’m definitely looking forward to facing him.”

The 19-capped McKennie also reiterated the views of Tyler Adams earlier this week, who revealed the USA were planning to show their support for racial justice on Thursday.

While the Juventus ace would not reveal the specifics of their planned gesture for the friendly with Wales, it will be personal to each player.

“It is definitely something we have thought about and we’ve talked about to the whole federation and whole group,” McKennie revealed.

“The beauty of it is no matter the colour of our skin, our ideas or who voted for who in election, we have had tremendous support with this whole process.

“It is something we are looking forward to showing tomorrow. We hope it sends a message and we want it to have our own ideal where we can all unite and identify and to make it personal for each person in way they express it.

“Definitely it will send a powerful message and hopefully many people can recognise that.”

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