When this Bundesliga season began, I was very hyped for Borussia Dortmund to have a strong season. Jordan Sancho was staying, Erling Haaland was a threat on every play and Marco Reus was healthy. I definitely thought they were going to contend for the title and make a nice run in the champions league. I was also excited about Gio Reyna, but to say I expected him to make such an impact so soon would be a lie. I definitely had high hopes that he would cement himself as a starter but he’s already done so much more. Haaland going down, Sancho being subpar and a lack of attacking cohesion caused their Manager, Lucien Favre, to be fired but Gio becoming an absolute must starter and key contributor has to be the highlight of the year.
As I write this, Gio Reyna has 22 appearances, 4 goals, 6 assists in 1,456 minutes across all competitions. Oh and a goal on his debut for the USMNT. On an Underdog Soccer Podcast episode a few months ago, we pondered whether Gio would have 10 goal contributions total during the season and he has already met that number. The truly amazing thing, though, is how he’s doing it. As I mentioned above, he is undoubtedly a starter for Dortmund and is a key part of the attack. With Haaland going down, the attack needed to be reliant on others. With the results as of late not going Dortmund’s way, Gio is hardly to blame. What Giovanni Reyna is doing at 18 years old right now is truly remarkable. The shoes he had to fill, both Haaland’s and Christian Pulisic’s, were big but Gio smiled, put them on and tied them with his eyes closed.
After blazing through Dortmund’s U19’s, Gio Reyna really hit his stride earlier this year becoming a first team member after the winter break last season. February was when Gio started contributing to what will be quite the highlight reel when all is said and done. In his champions league debut, he had an assist against PSG but the truly memorable play that was kind of like an announcement to the world of his talent, was his DFB Pokal goal vs Bremen. You know a goal is great when the announcers call it “Football porn”. Gio showed outstanding control, footwork and awareness on that goal and it was just the beginning.
Gio has shifted between the wings and an attacking midfielder for Dortmund but he’s at his best when he’s in the middle of the pitch, using his vision and fantastic passing to pull the strings and still remain a scoring threat. He started the season off with a goal and an assist vs Gladbach in the opener and has been consistent throughout the season. His most exciting contributions to Dortmund have come from open play but he is also a great at taking corners, assisting Emre Can on a header earlier in the season. The most impressive thing with Gio is his composure. An American being compared to Zinedine Zidane is not only something I never thought I would hear but is honestly accurate when it comes to Gio. When he is on the ball, whether it be on the wing or in the middle, he doesn’t look out of place, unsure or even remotely close to worried. This immense confidence and composure on the ball is so refreshing and impressive at the same time.
When Gio Reyna is on the ball, you know only proactive play is going to follow. So many times this season, Dortmund have looked complacent or even shy when it came to the attack but once again, this is not the case when it comes to Gio. When Haaland went down, there were a lot of people talking about how he would play and that maybe ‘He couldn’t do it without him’. Man were those people wrong. Even without Haaland, Gio was making things happen consistently. When you watch Dortmund this season, you can see how much of a difference maker he is. Oftentimes, some players in the attack look like they don’t have any ideas but Gio is always confident that he can make something happen. He is always linking up well with the players around him and is always finding himself in good positions.
Gio has the tools to become a world superstar. He is consistently smart on the ball and is always thinking about how to start a creative attack. He can create a goal with a shift in the hips and deceptive through ball or he can bring down a Raphael Gurriero lofted pass with a silky smooth first touch and finish with the outside of his foot on the next one.
Whether he plays on the wing or as an attacking midfielder for the USMNT remains to be seen but one thing is certain: Gio Reyna is going to be a key player for the United States for many years to come.