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Sergino Dest delivers strong showing at left back in USMNT win over Jamaica

Sergino Dest opened his scoring account with FC Barcelona over the weekend, and he said on Tuesday that he wanted to do the same with the U.S. Men’s National Team this week.

Mission accomplished. In impressive fashion.

The USMNT recorded a fourth straight win on Thursday by picking up a 4-1 friendly victory vs. Jamaica, but the scoreline did not fully tell the tale of how tight the game was at one point. The Americans and Jamaicans were locked in a stalemate in a tight and somewhat drab first half, and it was not until Dest provided a moment of individual brilliance that the game opened up.

Dest scored his first international goal in the 34th minute of the match at the Wiener Neustadt Stadion in Austria by unleashing a ferocious right-footed shot from distance after dribbling forward from near midfield.

“First of all, Segino is sick,” said chuckling midfielder Brenden Aaronson, using the slang term for great. “He is so good. He is playing left side first of all — it is hard enough — and then he comes in on his right and bangs a shot far post. I did not expect anything else. He has that quality. You saw it with Barcelona on the weekend and to give us that lead off the bat is also great because they were hard to break down at first.

“We needed something special and Sergino gave that to us. What a player.”

Sometimes when things are not working from the run of play collectively, you need individual talent to step up. Dest did just that and on the heels of a two-goal performance for Spanish giant FC Barcelona this past Sunday.

“It is really special,” said Dest. “I was playing left back so I was just thinking to myself, ‘I have to score. I have to keep this level,’ and I was looking to just come in with my right foot and just shoot. Obviously, look, I can also shoot with my left foot, but today I felt there was a lot of space in the middle so I had to cut inside.”

Making it all the more impressive was not only that he told USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter that he would score vs. Jamaica, but also that he did so in his first game back in the left back spot. The 20-year-old defender has been playing exclusively down the right at Barcelona, but that did not stop him from making an impact both with his goal and overall play during a 67-minute shift.

“For me personally it is not that hard (to change positions),” said Dest. “I can play on both sides. Right back is good for me and left back is good me. I do not prefer any, to be honest. I just like to play the game and it does not matter for me which position I am in.”

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Whether that is Dest being honest or diplomatic is up for interpretation, but it seems very likely that he will continue to get looks out on the left flank with the USMNT for the foreseeable future. There are several options to play on the right side of the defense, including Thursday’s starter Reggie Cannon, but not as many on the left.

That combined with Dest’s impressive versatility is why Berhalter has used the talented youngster on the left and why the coach will probably continue to do so in the short term.

“Regarding Sergino it is left or right and it just depends on the personnel that we have in camp, it depends on who is in form in the left and right back positions,” said Berhalter. “Antonee (Robinson) is a guy who came and did really well. We have Reggie, we have Bryan Reynolds on the right, we have DeAndre Yedlin on the right.

“We have a ton of people on the right and sometimes it may make sense to play him on the left.”

If that is the case, then Dest will need to continue to get more reps with left winger Christian Pulisic. The two played together for just the second time ever vs. the Jamaicans, meaning their understanding and chemistry is still a work in progress and something that has to be fine-tuned and rehearsed ahead of the more important matches that are to come later this year.

Still, the early signs with regards to Dest playing on the left have been promising. Thursday’s game, with his golazo included, was just the latest one.

“When somebody has the ability to do that like Sergino … it definitely takes that load off your back (as a team),” said midfielder Sebastian Lletget. “It is special to see.”

Comments

  1. One moment that stood out to me was when Dest hit a 30 yard pass with the outside of his right foot…and it dropped right in front of the runner.

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  2. I thought he underlined a “need” area for the mids, someone to hit 30 yard shots when the defense gets back and sits on the crossing. We had about 4 such shots and Dest’s was best. But he’s a back and you can’t rely on backs for routine offense. So they might do well to find a mid capable of the same thing. Cause the “joy” didn’t seem to be send the wingback to the flag and cross. It was running at the defense and shooting; or mid-type runs where you take people on and square the ball on the ground across the box. Ironically, direct stuff, not the possession soccer sales pitch.

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    • I think you have very limited view of what different formations and/or tactics mean. You seem to think to be a possession based team you have to play like Barcelona 2010. Or that the rules your club and college team used for their positions are the only way those positions can play. I’m not sure if you really can’t understand that the game is constantly changing or if you are feigning ignorance because you think questioning these things makes you sound smart. There are resources all over the Internet that can explain exactly what the US is trying to do and what they’ve succeeded in and what they still need to work on.

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  3. We have to avoid 2018 Cycle My Back Played Well This Week syndrome where you have one good game and we forget your issues. The question is stringing such nights together. There is not enough emphasis on consistent performance, period. So do it a couple more times. Otherwise I’m nervous if this is the same kid Mexico abused.

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  4. Dest was great, we haven’t had a back that can attack like that since Cherundolo. Looks like Dest will surpass Dolo offensively but can he defend against top level talent, that will be his next step. I wanted to give a quick shout to LLetget in response to comments below, while I totally agree his spot goes to McKennie when he’s there, Lletget is a valuable glue guy. He does a little of everything. And his willingness to crack a one-time shot in the box got him 2 goals and is something our super talented young players can learn from.

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    • The difference is Dolo could mark and wouldn’t see the club field otherwise.
      Dest got beat on the run a couple times for crosses sandwiching the goal. If he fixes that he has the offense. If not, giving up a goal to Mexico and scoring one on Jamaica nets out even at zero.

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  5. That was a borderline freakish first half from Dest. Given La Liga isn’t on ESPN+, my experience seeing Dest play has been mostly limited to the Champions League and Copa Del Rey. I hadn’t realized just how good this guy is becoming. So calm and confident on the ball. And those quick feet…..

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  6. His combining with Pulisic (hadn’t played together in a year and a half) and later with Aaronson was impressive. Now imagine that’s Wes instead of Lleget! Then Reyna is lurking in the middle with Sargent in the box that is going to give Concacaf nightmares. I know they haven’t played together and they didn’t have Blake in net but Jamaica arguably put out the third best defense in Concacaf with 4 Championship CBs and Championship CB at DM a couple with EPL experiences and we were slicing through them like Swiss cheese. They were a couple times as well it switched to Musah and he just exploded into the box, the final pass didn’t come off but you can see it’s there. Lots of things to be excited about. We didn’t even get to see Weah! For a team that supposedly isn’t skilled enough for possession soccer we had 70% of the ball and 28 shots.

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    • ‘Now imagine that’s Wes instead of Lleget!’ Yes, Yes. Lleget should have had at least 4 goals if only he was at the same level as the guys around him. Dest, Pulisic, Reyna, Musah, Sargent, are the real thing. We add Wes and Adams we may begin to be competitive against Mexico and other top tier teams.

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      • That is true but Pulisic, Reyna, and Sargent also missed a bunch of chances so I don’t know that those misses should be an indictment on Lletget’s quality.

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