In a move that shouldn’t be seen as a big surprise, Sergino Dest will not take part in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s upcoming Nations League matches against Cuba and Canada.
The Dutch-born defender would be cap-tied by an appearance in Nations League, and with the Dutch National Team reportedly making a push to have him play for the Netherlands, Dest has been left out of the USMNT squad for October.
“I understand there is going to be a lot of attention surrounding the availability of Sergiño in this next camp,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I’ve had conversations with Sergiño, the conversations were positive, and the content of these conversations is going to remain private.”
Dest has reportedly met with Dutch Federation officials, including Dutch National Team manager Ronald Koeman to discuss potentially representing the Netherlands.
The son of an American serviceman and Dutch mother, Dest was born in the Netherlands but began playing for the United States on the youth level as U.S. Under-17 player. He played for the United States at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup, and more recently played for the Americans in the Under-20 World Cup, helping the team reach the quarterfinals.
He carried over the success at the Under-20 World Cup into a strong preseason at Ajax, earning a starting role with the Dutch champions. His early-season success at Ajax helped increase interest in him by the Dutch Federation, which hadn’t previously called him in for any prior national team or youth national team camps.
Dest made his USMNT debut in September, starting in friendlies against Mexico and Uruguary in what was his first senior team call-up. At the time, Dest sounded like a player who planned on keeping his international options open.
Dest showed some promise in his USMNT debut, though he was beaten badly on Mexico’s opening goal. After that match, Dest sounded like a player who was eager to earn more national team opportunities.
Berhalter made it clear back in September that he wouldn’t pressure Dest into a decision, and give Dest time to figure out what he wants to do.
“It’s about communication, communicating with these players, and then creating an environment they want to be in,” Berhalter said when asked about handling a dual national.
At the moment, Dest can play in friendlies for the United States without being cap-tied, but he would need to file a Change of Association in order to play for the Netherlands, which would tie him to the Dutch team permanently.
Dest could theoretically join the Dutch team for a training camp, be it the senior team or a youth level team, if he wanted to have that experience before making a final decision.
The 18-year-old doesn’t have to make a final decision any time soon. The USMNT has two sets of Nations League matches, in October and November, but won’t play in matches Dest could be available for until March of 2020. He could conceivably put off a decision until next summer, when the USMNT could be taking part in the final rounds of the Concacaf Nations League, and when the Dutch National Team would be taking part in Euro 2020.