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Sergino Dest hoping individual growth at Barcelona carries over with USMNT

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Sergiño Dest’s ongoing development at Barcelona just saw him score his first two goals for the European powerhouse. Now he is hoping it will lead to more of the same with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Dest is currently taking part in the USMNT’s March training camp in Europe, and the young fullback wants to take all he has learned in recent months at Barcelona and apply it to this week’s international friendlies vs. Jamaica and Northern Ireland. Especially after becoming the first U.S. international to both bag a La Liga brace and find the back of the net for the Spanish giant this past weekend.

“I feel like I have developed a lot in Barcelona,” said Dest on a conference call on Tuesday. “I think the system what we are playing right now is just something that fits me really, really well. I think I am playing with the best of the game (in Leo Messi) so if every training you look at him and just see what he does, it is just unbelievable.

“I try to take a couple things from him. Of course, it is really hard what he does, but I feel like I am learning from all the players and I think it is really good for my development. I think I am at the right place to get my full potential.”

The USMNT is certainly hoping that potential is on display this week. The Americans take on a familiar Concacaf foe Jamaica on Thursday in Austria before traveling to Northern Ireland for a Sunday showdown, and Dest figures to see time in both of those fixtures after his steady dose of starts and playing time at Barcelona.

Just where he will do so in terms of position is unclear. The youngster has played exclusively on the right side of the Barcelona backline, but has been used at both right and left back with the USMNT in his first five caps under head coach Gregg Berhalter.

“I like both positions and I feel like I am going to play wherever the team needs me,” said Dest. “I have played a lot of left back with the national team and I like to switch a little bit. For me, I do not really prefer anything. I like both of the positions. I am a little bit of a different player on the left side than the right side. I think the change is nice and I like both of the sides.”

Dest may not mind playing out on the left flank, but the versatile defender with 17 league starts and 22 appearances for Barcelona this season has been used as a right wingback lately at his club. Playing there resulted in him scoring those aforementioned two goals in the recent rout of Real Sociedad, a byproduct of him getting into higher and more dangerous areas on the field.

“I think this system fits the whole team pretty well, especially for me,” said Dest. “I think it is a little bit better because I have someone behind me and I like to take some risks into my game. I think if I take risks in the game I’m on my best, like making attacking actions. Of course it can go wrong, but now I have someone behind me, so that is really, really, really good for me.”

“I was really, really happy to score two goals in the game,” added Dest. “I think I needed it.”

Dest is admittedly eager to find the back of the net for the first time at the international level, too.

“Hopefully I can just continue growing like this and score my first goal for the U.S.,” said Dest.

He can do so as soon as in this week’s pair of exhibition matches. Confidence should be high given his most recent performance and that combined with the fact that he has regularly been seeing the field at Barcelona all bodes well for him and the USMNT.

“I am a player that likes to take risks, that likes to add a little bit of flair in the game, but I have also learned that sometimes it is better to not do that and just wait for the moment you can,” said Dest. “… I feel in general that I grow and play a little bit more as an adult.”

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