USMNT general manager Brian McBride has told bundesliga.com that the sky is the limit for Borussia Dortmund teenager Giovanni Reyna.
Reyna, 17, has made nine senior appearances since being promoted to the Dortmund first team in January, registering a debut goal in the DFB Cup and match-winning assist on his maiden UEFA Champions League outing.
The teenager has been named in a provisional 50-man squad for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying, while US head coach Gregg Berhalter recently confirmed he will select the attacking midfielder in his March roster.
Watch: Gio Reyna is living the dream at Borussia Dortmund
Retired striker McBride - who represented Wolfsburg, among others, as a player and took up the USMNT's GM position in January - spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com about Reyna's development, the progress of the former New York City FC youngster's American contemporaries in the German top flight and what it all means for US soccer...
Brian McBride on...
... US soccer's relationship with the Bundesliga: "It’s hugely important for the USMNT to continue to build strong relationships with the Bundesliga clubs. The Bundesliga in general fully supports USMNT players and American players. There are quite a few players that are here now, so that relationship is one we realised we want to nurture. It provides extra activities that maybe aren’t provided inside our system. The growth factor is very important for us."
... what the Bundesliga offers young American soccer players: "There are different things the Bundesliga provides. Certainly day-to-day training is at a higher level, the competition is at a higher level - that’s a benefit for our players. We can get players in the European conditions, where they’re competing against top-level players day in, day out - it’s only going to benefit the players and our national-team programmes. When young Americans come to Europe, there are some many things they can gain. The Bundesliga certainly gives them that, and one of those things is a different setting. You’re put under pressure most days. On top of that, there’s a growth that happens when you go through a change - a change of language, a change of setting, being put in an uncomfortable position. If you can get through those moments, it makes you a stronger player, it makes you a stronger person."
... the benefit of playing in the Bundesliga: "We’re an organisation that’s about growth. So being in the Bundesliga, being in a position where you can play in competitions like the Champions League and Europa League, that’s really important for us. Players that are experiencing that now, we’re going to benefit from that, and they’re hopefully be more players coming through. That’s only going to benefit us."
... the USMNT players in the Bundesliga: "Tyler Adams has done a great job at RB Leipzig; Schalke's Weston McKennie; Zack [Steffen] coming here to Fortuna Düsseldorf… unfortunately he’s injured, but I don’t want to single out certain players just because I think so many different players are being put in different conditions. I’m happy to see Josh Sargent getting time at Werder Bremen, and his growth is important for our national team also. But I’m encouraged by everyone’s progress. Even though there’s been some injuries and some set-backs, I think that’s part of being a professional. You’re not always going to have it easy, and being able to push thought it, understand what your body needs to get through it and understand what your body needs to get through it and then stay healthy are gonna be things that they can rely on as their careers progress. So the growth side of it on the field has been exciting to see, but as much as we want them healthy and playing, it’s also part of the experience of being a professional."
... Weston McKennie's development at Schalke: "Weston’s had a great impact, and he’s a player that can play in many different positions. So if you look at Weston, his personality adding in with his quality, he as the potential to reach great heights."
... Reyna's potential: "You’re 17, and you’re able to make a jump from youth national teams to U23s of a Bundesliga team, and now you’re in the Champions League and making a difference. His growth factor is exponentially greater then I think most people thought. If you look at player like Gio, certainly his pedigree with with his Dad, you know he has the mentality. The fact that he’s now showing it with the technical side, we’re really happy for him. We’re excited to see him with [the USMNT], but also really excited to see what lies ahead for him."
... Zack Steffen's loan from Manchester City to Fortuna Düsseldorf: "Zack’s loan move is important because we want him playing, and he wants to be playing and that’s probably first and foremost. Zack is a goalkeeper who has improved since the day he became a professional. That means implementing and growing in different areas of his game, whether it’s shot-stopping, coming for crosses and now even playing with the ball at his feet. Those are the things Zack is continuing to improve. We’re excited for him. We think he’s a top goalie."
Watch: Zack Steffen is making the most of his time back in the Bundesliga
... American's in Germany's second tier: "We’re also looking at Bundesliga 2. This is something that happens at US Soccer House daily. We met Gregg [Berhalter]’s national team staff, watched tapes on the Bundesliga, Bundesliga 2 - you look into France in the second division, the Championship in England, there’s quite a bit of scouting going on, not just at the high level. We understand that players might not have had the chance to be pushed up to a top team, but they might be a top player. And if that’s the case, we’re definitely going to be looking at them."
... why Americans do so well in the Bundesliga: "I think young Americans will continue to come to the Bundesliga. I think there’s a few factors to explain it: you look at the amount of scouts that Bundesliga teams put in the United States, so they can see players at younger ages, I think is a huge factor. Also, if you look at England, there’s a work permit issue. So that part is a little bit of the reason why there not so many in the youth side of it. But more so I think it comes down to the fact that Americans have done well in the Bundesliga. The Bundesliga understand that theres is a wealth of talent that maybe they can find at a younger age and bring in, which is beneficial to everybody."