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DOHA, Qatar — Gio Reyna’s lack of playing time at the FIFA World Cup has become one of most persistent storylines of the U.S. men’s national team’s run through the tournament, and even though the team navigated the group stage with an unbeaten record, Reyna’s limited minutes have still been surprising to see.

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter addressed Reyna’s involvement in the World Cup, citing the game situations in the group stage with playing a big part in why the Borussia Dortmund star has played jus seven minutes at the World Cup.

“I think a lot of it comes down to timing and circumstance,” Berhalter said. “If you look at how the games have unfolded, we’ve had to leave and had to hold on to the lead later in games. The only game that we didn’t have that scenario, we actually put him in to help get the victory. So it’s just how we can use him in the most effective way. “

“Really talented player. and we’re looking for the right moment, but he can no doubt help this team.”

The strong performances by Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah on the wings, coupled with the outstanding form of the USMNT midfield has left Reyna with no way into the starting lineup up to this point, with Brenden Aaronson also ahead of him in the pecking order for playing time.

Reyna was an unused substitute in the USMNT’s dramatic 1-0 victory over Iran, and after the match he wore a somber look on his face despite the team’s qualification for the knockout rounds. He could be seen in video clips of the team’s return to its hotel looking very serious and not taking part in the raucous celebrations.

Reyna looked happier at USMNT training on Thursday.

Reyna’s lone appearance at the World Cup was a seven-minute cameo in the team’s 0-0 draw with England, and after that match he admitted that he had not had not spoken with Berhalter about his lack of playing time, or his role at the World Cup.

“No, but I said last time, he doesn’t have to. It’s not his job,” Reyna said after the England draw. “It’s my job to be ready when my number’s called.”

Reyna’s number could be called on Saturday if Christian Pulisic is unable to recover from the pelvic contusion he suffered in the win against Iran, or of the strain of playing three matches in eight days leads Berhalter to sit Tim Weah and insert Reyna.

The other scenario would be to bring Reyna off the bench if the Round of 16 match against the Netherlands is tied, or the Americans are trailing. The USMNT has not trailed at any point in the World Cup, but could be in that position on Saturday against the highly-favored Dutch.

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