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How one U.S. soccer player is honoring his father

Giovanni Reyna is now wearing the same jersey number his father wore in the 1998 World Cup

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Giovanni Reyna of the US soccer team exercises prior to a friendly match against Japan, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

Giovanni Reyna exercises during a training session of the U.S. soccer team in Cologne, Germany, prior to a friendly match against Japan, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

Martin Meissner, Associated Press

Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Giovanni Reyna, a winger for the U.S. men’s national team, has decided to wear the No. 21, the same number his father, Claudio Reyna, wore in the 1998 World Cup.

Giovanni Reyna sported the number during the U.S.’s 2-0 loss to Japan on Sept. 23 and 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia on Sept. 27. He was subbed out in the 30th minute of the Saudi Arabia game after experiencing muscle tightness, according to ESPN.

Depending on its severity, the injury could threaten Giovanni Reyna’s chances of making the World Cup roster — something he told ESPN he’s dreamed of being part of since he was a kid.

“I’ve played in the Champions League,” he said. “And the only thing that really is kind of on my bucket list as a kid — since I first started watching soccer — is to play in a World Cup with the USA.”

The muscle problem isn’t his first taste of the injury bug in his young career. When Giovanni Reyna isn’t playing for the U.S. national team, he is playing for the German Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund, where he missed significant playing time last year.

“Reyna is still only 19, but he has already had a taste of middle age, the injuries seemingly never stopping. Reyna missed 34 of Borussia Dortmund’s past 45 matches and 15 of the past 19 for the United States in the past 12 months,” ESPN reported.

Despite his injury-riddled history, Gregg Berhalter, the U.S. men’s national team manager, spoke highly of what the young winger brings to the team in an interview with The Athletic.

“He has quality,” he said. “The timing of his passing is very good, the weight of his passing is very good and he can receive the ball in any type of conditions. He can get it with his back to the goal, he can get it on the run, he can get it under tight pressure. That’s not a problem for him because of his quality. And then when he gets faced up, he’s really good at making a final pass. Just really good quality.”

The Reyna family soccer legacy

Giovanni Reyna’s dad, Claudio, played for the national team from 1994-2006, competing in 111 matches, four FIFA World Cups and two Olympics, according to the Olympics’ website.

“A National Soccer Hall of Fame member since 2012, Claudio Reyna is one of the most accomplished players in USMNT history. ... Claudio Reyna joins Kasey Keller and DaMarcus Beasley as the only individuals to go to four different FIFA World Cups for the USMNT,” according to the U.S. Soccer website.

Giovanni Reyna’s mother is also a top athlete. Danielle Egan won four NCAA championships playing soccer at the University of North Carolina and appeared in six matches for the U.S. women’s national team, according to Sports Illustrated.

Claudio Reyna and Egan met when both the men’s and women’s national teams stayed at the same hotel shortly before the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the article said.

Giovanni Reyna told Bundesliga.com that he inherited the best traits from both of his parents.

“My dad was more of a technical, combining player, good on the ball, and with good technique, while my mum was more of a runner,” he said. “I think I can run pretty well too, but I also have a good technique and a good combination. I think I got the best of both of them, but I can still always work and improve on both of them.”