The U.S. Men’s National Team is set to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup and if everything goes the way Americans hope, the team will be poised to make a memorable run at the tournament.
Sergino Dest is one of many young talented players in the USMNT pool, joining proven stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. Dest has joined both Pulisic and McKennie in making the jump at the club level to one of the Europe’s biggest clubs, Barcelona.
The historic tournament is still more than five years away from kicking off in the United States, but Dest believes the excitement to play as a host country will add more confidence to the USMNT.
“I feel [the excitement], everybody feels it,” Dest said in a press conference on Monday. “Because we have more players that play for big clubs, that’s why everyone is excited that we can really achieve something in the upcoming World Cups. Everyone has to keep motivated and keep hungry because I feel like we can do it. If we just work hard and as a team, everything can be achieved.”
Dest is coming off a sensational first season with Eredivisie side Ajax which eventually saw Barcelona and Bayern Munich headline the race for his signature this summer. The 19-year-old defender made the switch to Spain, becoming the latest American player to make the move to a consistent UEFA Champions League contender.
After committing his allegiance internationally to the USMNT, Dest has appeared three times under Gregg Berhalter and remains a key figure going into a busy 2021. If the USMNT can remain consistent and continue to see its star players develop at a rapid rate, it could be a real threat to win a first World Cup in team history.
“There’s a great possibility that we can do something great at the 2026 World Cup,” Dest said. “We also have a lot of talent in the youth [teams]. Everybody is hungry, everyone wants to achieve something with the US. That’s a good sign. We all want to win a World Cup, achieve great things, not only personally, but also as a team for the US.”
Domestically, Dest now has a top challenge in front of him at Barcelona, a club aiming to win more trophies in 2020-21. With Nelson Semedo now at EPL side Wolverhampton Wanderers, Dest comes into the Barcelona backline as a top option to start for Ronald Koeman.
Not only will Dest fight for domestic silverware at Barcelona this season, but he will return to European play after debuting in the Champions League with Ajax. While many players may be scared of the bright lights of the Camp Nou, Dest is staying confident to make the most of his situation in Spain.
“I like challenges,” Dest said. “I will develop at this club because I will see what I have to improve the most. It’s a big challenge but that’s what motivates me, playing with the best in the world. It’s something I really wanted and dreamed about.”
“I think I should take the chance to learn from these players, the best in the world is here, Messi, and I can learn from them. I feel like if you’re in Spain, it’s easier to learn Spanish. So if I am with the best players, it’s easier to develop.”