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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Sergiño Dest


Sergino Dest watched the opening goal of Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier between the United States and Costa Rica from the end-line, where his presence allowed the Ticos to be onside for a stunning first-minute goal.

Dest more than made up for his role in that opening goal, scoring a stunning equalizer before helping set up the USMNT winner in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Costa Rica at Field. The FC Barcelona defender earned SBI USMNT Man of the Match honors for his efforts in a win that helped the Americans move into first place in the Concacaf Octagonal standings (at least temporarily).

Dest finished the night with five recoveries, five duels won and two successful dribbles, but it was his lone shot of the night that will be remembered, a left-footed blast that erased Costa Rica’s early lead and gave the Americans new life.

Dest was lively throughout the match and helped set up the eventual winner when he latched onto a misplayed ball by Costa Rica’s Keysher Fuller and sprang Tim Weah on the break, with Weah’s subsequent shot hitting off Costa Rican goalkeeper Leonel Moreira before bouncing home.

Dest delivered the best performance for the USMNT on a night when several others also impressed, including Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie and Miles Robinson, who earned Honorable Mention for their strong outings.

What did you think of Dest’s performance? Who was your pick for Man of the Match? Who impressed you the most?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m going to leave this here. But Jamaica away is going to be a real tough match because there is no way McKinnie and Adams get through MX without at least one yellow… which means MF is going to be a major issue in the second game next window. I guess you start both Musah and Busio? Give Acosta a chance to redeem himself? IDK, but it will be an issue.

  2. Dest is great offensively. Pretty bad defensively. Against good team all his defensive shortcomings will be exposed. He’s just not a defender. Maybe move him up.

      • i assume y’all missed the part where dest’s man crosses to robinson’s man who knocks it in. i mean, that was a glorious, kirovski-esque upper 90 thing but it about evened up his night to me. this is precisely what i mean when i say you have to watch how the wingbacks “net” for a game or series of games. i would have said weah or adams was MOTM for that reason. i’m not mentally accounting good vs bad.

    • I thought he was fine defensively last night although he wasn’t really tested much. I actually think he has improved pretty dramatically on the defensive side, most of his “flaws” were positional and he seems to be cleaning that up. And he is so dangerous going forward that it changes our team, forces opponents back and provides more space in the center for our other guys to operate. I think right now the most pressing need for the US is finding capable backups for Adams, McKennie, and Musah because they are clearly a lot better than the other options.

      • Last night the US was playing against probably the weakest Costa Rica team in some 20 years. Old and weak. Not much of a test for defenders.

  3. The difference between having McKennie on the field vs CR vs. Lletget on the field against Panama was stark. McKennie makes everyone around him look better and Lletget makes everyone around him look worse. I didn’t hear why Lletget didn’t even make the bench vs. C.R. but hopefully he’s an emergency call-up/ friendly-shirt-filler only in the future. Acosta is teetering on the precipice for me in terms of whether he brings enough to even bother. Hopefully we can find more quality at the six to keep Adams healthy. Much as I like McKennie going forward, he might be the next best option in terms of skill, smarts and fire, especially once Reyna comes back. Busio might be a guy too, but not quite yet. He needs to bulk up a little.

  4. Yeah, Dest probably did deserve MVP honors – Oh My, that was a strike, and it brought us back from the dead – but several others jumped off the field at me. Start with Aaronson. He’s indispensable. Even when Pulisic comes back I still want him starting…it’d frankly be nice to have him AND Pulisic on the field at the same time so play him at RW when Pulisic starts at LW. Musah’s another guy I wanna see a ton more of…since we’re not going to drop Reyna – but I think Reyna’s a CM anyhow – I’d like to see him share the 10 (I know Gregg actually plays dual 8’s, but one of them sort of becomes a 10 during the game regardless of how Gregg draws it out on his whiteboard), alongside McKennie. Busio’s quality sparkled those lose 20 minutes as well…by next year he’ll be well past Lletget and Reyna/McKennie/Musah/Busio look a whole lot like your top four 8’s.
    Oh, and Chris Richards. He did have one awkward bit of emergency defending and mislaid at least two bad passes I saw but MAN is that kid talented. He’s smooth, poised, both athletic AND fast, has the skill and mobility of a midfielder, can both distribute out of the back and get on the ball and drive – even when he got caught going forwards one time, he recovered and picked a midfielder’s pocket from behind…in Costa Rica’s own half. That dude is going to be WAY too good to sit and he’s a mile past Mark McKenzie and he’s frankly better even than Miles Robinson, who had moved to the top of CB heap this cycle. I actually think Zimmerman – not Brooks – is probably our top veteran CB right now and honestly Matt Miazga – who is really doing well in Spain and looks pretty good passing out of the back, or even Aaron Long when he returns might well beat out Brooks for that last CB spot on the plane if Brooks doesn’t get it back together.

      • I’d move Gio to CM, myself, and play them both. Gio and McKennie in the middle would be perfect.
        One thing this cycle has clearly shown is that you very much need two of everything, though, and you need to be able to get at least a game and half out of each player and they’d better be good…not middle-of-the-pack MLS guys who were never awesome to begin with. Like I said, I think our two creative mids – technically they’re not 10’s, but it ends up playing out that way – are Gio and Musah. Split ’em. At the other 8 spot I think it’s McKennie and Busio, though I could see Busio sharing the 6-spot with Adams once his bite improves a bit. That’s what Busio plays in Serie A. The kid is CLEARLY getting better in a hurry in Italy.

      • Quozzel, there was a good article about how England played their fans choice lineup. It was a home game against a team they beat on the road in qualifying 4nil. The game was in wembley and it ended in a draw. I think England are pretty comfortable in their pursuit of a place in qatar. But I’m not sure if what you think is the optimum lineup, is necessarily so.

      • what I would like to see is this:

        I’m not sure I’ll get to against MX, but I would like to. If you are ahead, you bring in a MF (busio, musah, acosta, whomever) for Aaronson, maybe cannon/Yedlin for Dest. Maybe drop into a 4-4-2 and take off pulisic, maybe take of Adams and Mckinnie and protect them from yellows. etc. If you are behind, you can add a whole bunch of attacking talent up top and out wide.

      • Gosh, Dikranovich, and here I was thinking this section was for actually sharing our thoughts for one another. Why is there always that one dude on a message board forum – which was created for the express purpose of sharing thoughts upon – who uses it to critique others for sharing their thoughts on a message board forum?
        Odd phenomena. And forgive me for completely dismissing you going forward.

      • Quozzel, you’re one of the top commenters on this site, based on quantity of posts, and length of your responses and thoughts. You’re free to have your opinion, I just don’t know how valid your thoughts are, and they are certainly not as rock solid as you clearly think they are. Thanks for telling me you’re dismissive, but that was already clear long time ago

    • Regarding Richards, when a good Bundesliga team really wants to sign a guy but Bayern is only willing to loan him out, that should tell you something, especially when he is playing well for his Bundesliga team. I trust managers and GM at teams like that to be able to judge talent. Thus, Berhalter’s hesitance to play the guy is inexplicable to me. He should have started him in Panama and called him in last cycle, too. Likewise, Miazga should be given a look and maybe even CCV, ahead of McKenzie who isn’t even starting now for Genk.

      • I understand your point but do you think McKenzie is why they lost to Panama and had Richards played they would have won?

    • I gotta say with both Pulisic and Reyna you see visible frustration all the time. Pulisic super slow to get up of the ground and angry that he’s been fouled, etc. both slamming the ground when they miss shots, Reyna sparring with teammates
      With Aaronson – just laser focus. I’m really not sure we’re missing much having Aaronson out there. I can’t think of what he can be doing much better.

      • I am HOPING that this last fixture window sort of put Pulisic and Reyna in their places. I think with previous rosters there was a lot of frustration from them because the guys around them were often not on par with what they were playing with in Europe and they felt they were compelled to carry the team.
        Now there’s a ton of good players around and more coming all the time, and they’ve seen the team win – at least when it wasn’t a pack of Berhalter C-teamer favs on the field – without them. When you’ve got the likes of Aaronson, McKennie, Busio, Dest, Musah, the Robinson boys, Chris Richards, Timothy Weah on the field and hey, a striker who can actually finish in Pepi, you DON’T have to do it all yourself.
        I still strongly think Gio Reyna needs to be in the middle; I want to see him pulling the strings like his dad did.
        And oh, yeah, the armband should be on Tyler Adams’ arm and not Pulisic’s. I like Pulisic, a lot, and think he’s our most-talented player (well, it could be Reyna over the long term), but there’s a difference between being the most-talented guy on the field and a CAPTAIN…and Adams is a captain. Gregg needs to have the courage to make it official…and tell Pulisic “no”. I think Pulisic could afford to hear that word once or twice from Gregg.

    • Even after a couple of replays I’m not sure. It looked like he could have saved it, but should he have? Either way, why change from Turner in the first place? Just because Steffen used to play for Columbus? You can’t be sentimental when it comes to qualifying. Turner should have been in there and still should be unless and until he really screws up or is injured.

      • Gary: I am purely speculating because I have no inside information, but bringing players in and not playing them may impact future decisions on whether to accept call ups. Whether you play in MLS or Europe, it is a huge disruption with lots of risk to leave your paying job to go to international duty. IMO, Steffen and Turner are way ahead of Sean Johnson so if Steffen stops coming, you are an injury away from having a considerable drop off in quality (assuming you think Johnson is that). Remember that prior to 2002, Freidel gave Arena an ultimatum; play me or I’m not coming.

      • tele: i think it’s two things. (1) one, a smart coach is not putting all his eggs in one basket as we tend to do with adams pulisic (and previously, steffen). to some extent lately reyna. someone gets hurt or sick (and they have been routinely)….what then? USSF has been bad for years about fanboying its best players to lengths that are bad for a soccer team. it was kind of on the “landon” template — played domestically, always took every friendly call or winter loan. he also had a shorter career than i expected for someone of his health, fitness, and focus. (2) and this is a GB blindspot to date, like you’re saying, sharing out minutes to keep alternatives loyal and happy. i’ve been arguing for months part of his ochoa araujo akinola problem was he would rarely bend from some pure merit idea in his head. like sharing out some minutes to keep other players in our camp or not turning him down was an ethical distortion or something. i think he has his system ideas. i think he runs his numbers on paper. i am not quite sold on him as a selector, game manager, or team psychologist and motivator. the fuzzy, emotional side of this, nope. that would be getting into some of his players, weah, horvath, prepared pros, some of them, mckennie, probably need constant monitoring and motivating. he doesn’t strike me as the people person figuring out individual buttons to push. he strikes me as the aloof paterfamilias one strives to somehow reach. that is not good for dual nationals or moody players.

    • i think it was ok to start steffen. through this summer fair or unfair he was the “1.” i think starting him in columbus was inappropriately sentimental but starting him the game after turner’s glitches in panama was fine. you want to keep the competition honest and share out some of the minutes so other keepers are ready — just like i said when steffen owned the job.

      he mostly did the job but like lost concentration on the goal or something. he may have been somewhat frazzled because he ran out to do the header. but it was like the cross comes across and the shot is a relatively lumbering, bouncing ball to the far post. he sees the man in front of him. he must have seen the shot. he like freezes, maybe he thought the guy in the middle would touch it, which would have to go through him, so he’s frozen in the middle when it just bounces by. keepers do that sometimes on low free inswinging kicks to the far post. they are so focused on the runners they forget to save the shot. anyhow, very soft, should have saved it.

      like i said other thread, i think prior generations of US keepers would’ve been meeting the timing of the ball to the guy in the middle with a crunch, because it gets you stuck in and narrows the angle to zip. i kind of want an alumni keeper to come back and teach turner and steffen to be a little more physical. turner on corners, steffen on that kind of soft, loose ball in the box stuff.

      • As regards Steffen and Turner, I have two immediate thoughts. 1. You dance with the one who brought you, and 1. Wally Pip and Lou Gehrig. For those who don’t know baseball history, Pip was the Yankees first base starter and a good player. He asked for a couple of games off to rest. Lou Gehrig took over the position and held it until he got MLS. He was one of the all time greats. If a second stringer outperforms the first stringer you don’t automatically give the job back to the first stringer.

      • gary: my thing is i haven’t seen the steffen i think people are remembering, play that way in years, roughly since he hurt the knee. i think people are comparing 2018 steffen to 2021 turner but only one of them still looks like that. if 2018 steffen showed back up it would be on like friedel and keller. i am not even opposed to that. i just think until that guy shows back up time moves on. holden, o’brien, plenty of history of players who weren’t the same after…..and i don’t want that….just is what it is until he shows back up….

  5. As much as Dest and Weah’s goals were great, the player I’m so impressed with is Ricardo Pepi. I can’t remember seeing a US teen forward playing with such intelligence, skill, awareness, and clinical finishing. I can understand why so many clubs are eyeing him.

    • Pepi’s not near as good as he’s going to get, either. There were several instances where if he’s been just a fraction quicker in his recognition, taken a better angle with his run, or his touch-and-turn had been just a hair tighter, he’d have scored…and he’s already scoring. Playing in a top Euro league where the tolerances are tighter and the requirements are higher will give him all that; by the time he’s even 21-22 he’ll have filled out a bit – he’s still kind of lanky too and can get pushed over a touch too easy for my liking – and I think he’ll be an ENTIRELY different animal. But the kid has a mile of upside, and isn’t NEARLY as good as he’s going to be in a couple years if he gets a decent club situation and develops like he could.
      Also…Hoppe’s a CF. I think he and Pepi are the future of the USMNT at the position, and why Gregg keeps insisting Hoppe’s a wing is one of several things that really annoys me about him.

      • Re: Pepi

        “if he gets a decent club situation and develops like he could.”

        That is a very big IF. Very big.

        Pepi has the requisite ton of upside but he’s got a long way to go yet before he displaces Lewandoski for the best striker in the world.

    • I don’t think we should ove3rlook Pefok and Dike. Pefok has scored in the Champions League and has an excellent scoring rate. Dike has been slow to heat up since returning from England, but I suspect that’s because he went over a year without much of a break. I think there is real competition there albeit Pepi is our #1 now.

    • I have to challenge the clinical finishing part. In Honduras he missed a couple wide open opportunities (I remember because I was talking about it here) and in this game he missed 1. He might get there, but until I see him slotting home every chance, I’m not sold.

    • pepi seems like he is in general going to be the real deal but he kind of disappeared the last 2 games, and with zardes basically only being useful in the press one wanted some other striker around with real chops to take some chances.

  6. He is clearly #1 at RB, but I think his crosses can be improved. He is the best offensive threat we have among our defenders and that helps a lot. He certainly deserves this recognitio9n.

    • That’s been my issue with so many wingbacks and wings. At what point did crossing become such an after thought in development that it’s become the issue it is today (and not just with us, I see it at the club level a lot).

      • Robinson in particular was missing on his crosses last night. He did a great job getting forward. It’s just the final product was lacking. Had he been on target, we might have won by 2-3 goals.

    • Crossing was not going to be a very effective strategy vs. a bunkered in C.R. backline. The rarely came out past the 35-yard mark. It was clear they were not going to be beaten by someone getting in behind their lines.

      • i think we’re conflating (a) whacking lofted crosses in with something like (b) they feed weah in behind the defense and he squares a ball in on the ground. i agree the former wasn’t going to work but the latter is our effective bread and butter. also, all due respect to “the defense is back” but you can usually get that either way. if they play high up there’s room behind the line. if they play deep in a straight line — as the US is sometimes guilty of — the open space is out by the spot — in front of the defense. i agreed with TT that part of our problem was a lack of complimentary runs. like everyone runs towards the 6 like U16s. there is no mix of front post, back post, held up, dummy runs to drag the defense out of shape. 3 years in and we still kind of play like no one knows what the next guy behind him is doing. so maybe instead of everyone drags the defense all to the same point of attack, some sacrifical runs to open up some other people, or some people hanging out for garbage, you know, team play, not everyone sold out on one run.

      • Gary: i do think it’s fair we’re missing two key players. but even with them i haven’t seen this get integrated in a way where they really combine with each other like they are familiar. nor do we have some system sorted that hums without them. honestly i wonder how much time they spend trying to teach the 11 v 11 basics of what he wants, and then how much time they give to deadball plays, small side scrimmaging, stuff where they learn to work off of and anticipate each other. dest’s goal is just one player receiving a fairly prosaic sideways ball, shaking his mark, and then improvising. the pass itself was not special, an overlap, a wall ball, a flick into space. he made his own space and executed. we’re relying a little too much on individual skill.

        that being said, heck, if it’s going to be this static, go find me 1-2 more players who can come off the bench and shoot top of the D into a corner of the net. we work too hard for goals. either that or someone who combines well with others. find some people to make it easier.

    • The best US crosser has chosen to play for Mexico. The Galaxy’s Araujo is better in that aspect than anyone we have now. Robinson’s play was a bit substandard., compared to the last time he played. He never varied his play and while his crosses weren’t bad, they just weren’t of the quality to cause real problems. As for the US attack in general, I think it was Twellman who noted that runs off the ball in the opponent’s third weren’t varied enough. Specifically, I don’t remember anyone making diagonal runs, which often case defensive problems.

      • diagonal runs is fair but at that point you’re wandering into my theory we don’t combine or interchange positions enough. everyone runs their channels like some 442 team. the only deviations from this were dest on his goal and then hoppe kind of shifting at times into almost a second striker role. i was kind of waiting all night for them to go more direct to goal, combine and overlap off each other. for a team in a 433 selling breaking lines etc. we do a lot of left guys stay over here, right guys stay over here, centers stay middle, forwards up here, mids back there, defenders behind them. i get diagonal runs going forward but i’d also like to see them wall passing and overlapping like they ever played together. the offense at the moment is just kind of kick it into space and the wing turns on the afterburners to the endline, then we kick it across and see what happens. very positional and predictable.

      • IV–Before the 2018 WC I saw Belgium play CR in a friendly warm up game. CR was younger, of course, and better than they are now. Belgium still won comfortably They did it by have good hold up players in the box taking passes and then quick passes to a teammate running past the defense in a quick one-two. But that was a mature Belgium and we’re not there yet, especially without Reyna and Pulisic.

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