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Dest: USMNT can achieve “everything” at 2026 World Cup

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.”

Comments

  1. i am also going to toss out there that while i generally agree with his thoughts about the group, on 3 caps, 2 of which were sketchy, the implication he must be part of the core is a tad presumptuous. but i think the kid’s agent is probably a PR genius, always in control of the narrative and driving the client’s interests. he probably wouldn’t have been first onto the NT but he played the whole “will he play for Holland” card. and this coach unlike others didn’t tell him where to then get off. and now it’s a narrative where he’s a core guy in this building 2026 team. that is a popular view but not one i think he’s actually earned yet. but in his defense if he and his agent say it enough under the current regime it seems to come true. what cannon needs is a publicist.

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    • So it was bad to play Dest who was starting in the Champions League for Ajax but why didn’t we grovel to Hamalaman who was playing for a mid-level team in Scotland after a failed loan to LAFC? We should be rushing the U20s to the NT because of their success, but not Dest. It’s almost like you take the opposite position of every decision the USSF makes.

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      • No, that’s horse hooey. I can just tell between the really good ones and the hype train kids. Reyna and Richards are pipeline kids I think will be just fine. But they were also the best U17 and the U20 in their respective tournaments. My issue here is very specific. I think this kid is riding the hype train. He did not have a perfect U20 tournament, he got abused in the first game. He then got abused by Mexico on the senior team. Ajax (and now Barca) is nice, but objectively he is a mixed bag. Since when did “mixed bag” earn you Core Player status?? He is not the equivalent of Pulisic where from Day 1 he is awesome and makes few glitches. Normally awesome with few errors is the route to Core Player. He is being given unearned status. Or, perhaps, laying claim to such status without earning it, via articles like this. I repeat myself. I have high hopes for 2026. I think several of his colleagues are the sort of impact players we will need. I am not sure he is one of them. That is not opposing USSF on everything it does. That is thinking that a decision specific to the quite fallible Berhalter is wrong yet again. I explained on the Kelman thread how on several pretty good players there seem to be on-off switches relative to who is the boss. And I am suggesting if we ever have a change in bosses Dest may suffer the fate of Yedlin, a similar player with an infuriating mix of potent upside and slack defense. And that’s not contrarianism, that’s FACT. Your track record is what it is. He’s not 17 and uncapped. His tape is what his tape is. Maybe he can fix it unlike Yedlin.

  2. i have high hopes for the 2026 generation. i also think that by that time any lingering dumb ideas like bradley zardes jozy work themselves out of the picture by age — even if they already should have. in that sense father time eventually beats footdragging of the current coach. my complaint is if we went ahead and tilted that direction now i think we would be an unpredictable wild card regionally and at the world cup. to the extent roster inertia wins out i think 2022 will be a more modest cycle. all that being said they need to get the defensive house in order or that will limit how far this can go. we have too many defenders esteemed for going forward, we need more guys who can mark the other team’s guy out of the game. the snobs seem to forget soccer is played two directions. if you want to advance through knockouts you need to be able to control games and pitch some shutouts. i have faith in the offense coming up. i lack that faith in the defense. richards is the only one the club snobs are pushing that does it at both ends. you really need 3-4 like that if the goal is going deep.

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  3. USA – 2026 World Cup Champions!
    We’ve got what looks like our “Golden Generation”. They’ll be in their prime in 2026, and will have one World Cup under their belts by then. And, of course, they’ll be playing at home. If Greece can win the Euros, we can win the WC.

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    • There are a lot of good teams out there. Realistically, though, I think making the semis is a strong possibility. Like the NCAA basketball tournament, you aim to make the final four and there anything can happen.

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    • i’d like to see a more balanced system with more organization and discipline. something more like a german or italian team would play. i do feel like the system and personnel choices are getting a little cute and fashion conscious. my hope on that is when they swapped stewart and cordeiro and jay berhalter out for mcbride and parlow that some rigor came back in. that we will start to become more concerned with does the team objectively look good and get concrete results. this wasn’t just supposed to be a new mousetrap, it was supposed to elevate us off the plateau of being out round of 16. this way, so far, if we qualify it would be working hard and 2nd or 3rd. i don’t feel elevated. i feel like a clique got together to sieze control of the apparatus. and like they are the guys from the team that would finish behind you in league but lecture you about how they played the right way. where i came from — actually winning the league most years — i thought such teams had a screw loose.

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      • It’s more the planning for youth players, scheduling games for youth teams, not bring someone different mentality in USSF. I personally would love see DP-type coaches for youth teams. Example: our 23’and 20’s teams could be playing some Euro clubs or MX teams all these Summers. Like Project 20 or 40 was a good for 90’s but not now.

    • A couple of years ago some major European teams set up teams of scouts in the US. This is why we have seen so many of our young players able to go to Europe while still in their mid teens. With that and many MLS USL teams and academies for younger players, many of whom are then poached by European teams, I think whatever shortcomings the USSF has will be overcome by the infusion of talent that the US has been producing.

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      • i think there was a pendulum swing from defend and counter to dutch 433 with defense an afterthought. i feel like those are near the opposite polar ends of how to play soccer. i can see from watching my alma mater play NCAA that things have swung dramatically and the fashion has seeped down to age group play. they play 433 and are much slicker than some of us were. they also struggle in transitions and can’t defend half as well. end to end eredivisie stuff. the eredivisie is where you see 6-4 scores. i think when you hear people talk about composing this new team it’s like they have forgotten 3-4 good guys are needed on defense, and you might want to have 2 world class keepers around. this should be basic institutional knowledge. it’s our history. instead the best keeper has consistency problems and most of the backs appear to be picked for offense. i grant the offensive talent coming up is great. but if we can’t defend it becomes can you win 4-3 type stuff. i feel like with the mentality change people forgot how to find actual defenders. if you don’t have someone who can mark neymar out of the game i don’t know how we are beating colombia, brazil, england, croatia, the sort of top squads we would need to supersede to be world champion. we seem hyperfocused on half the team. the other half decides how far this goes. the last cycle we led concacaf in goals and didn’t qualify, because we shipped a ton too and barely had positive goal difference. so maybe concern yourself with the other half of the field as well.

      • I mean, y’all do get that at the highest levels the other team is probably just as talented on offense, and the question is who can stop who? It’s this myopia where apparently we think Concacaf and the world will just lay down and let us pass the ball all day. Let me disabuse you of that. They will try to score on us too, and they will probably press and hack the heck out of the offense. What people miss on Dutch soccer is it’s almost mutual agreement in the Dutch league that no one plays defense and you get to pass all day until the final third. Does that in any way sound like international soccer? There is a reason Holland is fun to watch but also never wins the Big One.

      • i second the response on mid teens. one of the reasons the euro snobs bore me is under the fifa 18 year old rule european academies will not replace domestic development. you have to have the right passport to go join an academy as a schoolkid. you can then sign age 18 and they can run you through finishing school. but it’s a running theme that not everyone can go there young, that only passport and permit players can sign in England, and that we cannot offload all our players on other countries to develop. it will always be a select few, especially in england where the permit rules basically require you to already be a “made” senior team player. england and germany are not going to just do our job for us. their roster rules are set up to encourage domestic players. so whether you like it or not we need to remain focused on academies, traditional club, college, and the youth NT system. because let’s be real, barca isn’t going to sign and develop all our kids — it’s going to come in at the end and cherry pick the ones we already created. so you have to create them yourself. and if the cupboard is bare like 2010-2015 then they could care less. unless you have the right passport.

    • Some people have questioned my remark about mid-teen kids going to Europe. I was thinking of kids 17 and 18, which technically may not be mid-teens, but are close. Guys like that include Llanez, Haji Wright, Pulisic, Reyna, Sargent, and quite a few more who have gone over in the last couple of years.

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