With leaders Bayern Munich in their sights, Borussia Dortmund may have an ace up their sleeve in the pursuit of the defending champions thanks to USA international Gio Reyna soon returning to action for the Black-and-Yellows.
Following a super start to the 2021/22 campaign, in which the American scored twice in three Bundesliga appearances, Reyna picked up a hamstring injury while on USMNT duty last September that kept him sidelined until February this year.
"The injury turned out to be a bit more serious than we expected," Dortmund coach Marco Rose later noted, with Reyna forced to sit out his club’s subsequent 16 top-flight games. The teenager made his comeback as a substitute on Matchday 21, but suffered another setback just two weeks later at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach, although thankfully this time the injury was not as bad as initially feared.
Now back in the squad and available once more, the talented teen is eager to aid BVB’s challenge of gaining ground on champions Bayern. Next for Reyna and Co. is a tricky trip to Cologne on Matchday 27 before he links up with the USMNT again in the international break.
Watch: Not Done Yet: Fresh Hope For Dortmund
Going into the current season, Reyna played a starring role as the USA won the CONCACAF Nations League. The son of former USA internationals Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan, Reyna scored to equalise against Mexico in the rescheduled showpiece and then set up ex-Schalke man, Weston McKennie, for 2-2. On hand to score the winner in extra time in Denver was former Dortmund favourite Christian Pulisic.
Given the Dortmund No.7 jersey by the departing Jadon Sancho last summer, the one-time New York City FC man was fully focused on taking his game to the next level as he headed into his third term at Signal Iduna Park.
Watch: The best of Gio Reyna
"I think everybody saw the bits of what I can do last season but I guess to put it through 40-plus games this season and try to consistently put more good performances in," he said in pre-season. "Really just try to be a little more consistent, try to take my game to the next level and improve in any way possible."
The walking of the walk followed the talking of the talk as Reyna made an eye-catching start to the season with Die Schwarzgelben, finding the back of the net in both the Matchday 1 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt and the win over Hoffenheim two games later. By then, the young American had half as many goals as he managed in the entire 2020/21 campaign (four). Add to that an assist in the DFB Cup win against Wehen Wiesbaden, and it all looked set to be a memorable campaign for Reyna, until injury struck.
"I thought Gio was very good," coach Rose said of his attacking starlet after Dortmund’s first-round Cup triumph. "He was very present on the ball and had some creative moments. During pre-season he improved his physicality and willingness to work against the ball."
Watch: Reyna on target against Hoffenheim
"(He) made a bright start to this season and produced some outstanding displays in the diamond," reflected Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl at the start of 2022. "He moves cleverly between the lines, but also cuts inside from wide positions, poses a goal threat and has a slyness about him. We would like to have him back."
Kehl's wish has now been granted. With Dortmund having recently cut the deficit on Bayern to four points - and a Klassiker still to come on Matchday 31 in April - there is still everything to play for in the title race.
Dubbed "The American Dream" by his free-scoring teammate and best mate Erling Haaland - who himself returned from injury to quickly get back in the goals earlier this season - Reyna's reunion with the Norwegian goal-machine could prove just the tonic as Dortmund look to scupper Bayern’s hopes of a 10th successive Bundesliga crown.
Gio Reyna out for the season
The American's campaign has been brought to a premature end after another hamstring injury.
Reyna delight at Haaland's Dortmund return
USMNT midfielder Reyna says the prolific Norwegian striker's comeback from injury will give his team "a new dynamic".
Reyna out for two weeks with thigh injury
Fears of a serious injury have been allayed with Borussia Dortmund's USMNT international only suffering a minor thigh injury at the weekend.