Despite losing 2-1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, they achieved their goal, winning the two-match series 4-2, “but not in the way we wanted,” said coach Gregg Berhalter.
Thursday’s 3-0 win in Austin gave the team a comfortable cushion. But Dest’s stunning lack of composure earned him a red card, weakened his team and changed the course of an otherwise quiet match. He will miss the Nations League semi-final on March 21 in Arlington, Texas.
Berhalter said Dest’s behavior was “disturbing.”[…]We pride ourselves on maintaining mental discipline.”
Dest apologized to the team, Berhalter said.
“We have to hold him accountable because it is inexcusable,” the coach added. “After the match, we were very firm in our words. He put a lot of guys in danger, made them do a lot of extra work [warm] weather.”
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The 23-year-old right-back, who started at the World Cup in Qatar, was apparently concerned about contact in attack. Moments later, when he was unable to keep the ball in play near midfield, he kicked the ball into the stands.
Referee Walter López gave a yellow card. Dest complained. Fearing another card, teammates Gio Reyna, Tim Ream and Yunus Musah tried to calm Dest down. He persisted. López flashed a second yellow card.
Ream, the captain, became furious and pointed at Dest. Goalie Matt Turner lay on top of him and, trying to get Dest out of the field faster, pushed him. Dest then said something to Turner.
On Instagram, Dest called his actions “selfish and immature.” …It will not happen again.”
Left fielder Antonee Robinson called it a “moment of unprofessionalism.”[…]People can make mistakes and this is just a big mistake.”
Ream said that in the locker room at halftime, players had a “choice of words” for Dest. “It’s a complete lack of respect for the guys who are playing and the players who are on the bench,” the captain added. “It’s a lack of respect for the game itself and the referees.”
Dest also received a red card in the 2022-2023 Nations League semi-final against Mexico last summer, which left him unable to play in the final.
“I don’t want this to turn into a witch hunt,” Berhalter said. “He’s a young player. He’s a fantastic part of this team. He’s going to study. He will grow. He made a stupid mistake. He knows it.
Four minutes after Dessta’s outburst, Reon Moore scored the equalizer. Eleven minutes into the second half, Alvin Jones’ powerful free kick gave the Soca Warriors the lead.
The hosts, ranked 99th in the FIFA rankings, needed three more goals to win the series; an aggregate draw would not be enough to force extra time as the 11th-placed visitors led on away goals in the first overtime after Robinson’s 25th-minute strike.
The game marked the U.S. team’s first visit to the Caribbean since another terrible match: in October 2017, a 2-1 loss to a last-place opponent on the final day of qualifying ended a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances.
After this disastrous result, the Americans won the next four games by a margin of 22-0, including Thursday’s victory in Texas. This didn’t come easy though; The Soca Warriors remained goalless until late.
Midfielder Weston McKennie missed the second match with a knee problem, while stalwarts Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah and Tyler Adams were also on the injured list.
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The Americans could have ended the tie within the first four minutes, but Denzil Smith made two excellent saves. However, in the 25th minute, Dest sent a cross into the heart of the penalty area. Robinson headed a ten-yard shot into the right corner for his second goal in four days.
“Everything was going smoothly, and then one unfortunate moment put us at a huge disadvantage,” Berhalter said.
Following the red card, Dessta Moore stopped Cameron Carter-Vickers and fired a shot over Turner from an angle. Early in the second half, Jones, who also scored in an upset in 2017, made a free kick. Turner took a high, knuckle shot but couldn’t stop it.
The American team was reeling from the turn of events and had it not been for some wayward shots and two great saves from Turner, the pressure would have mounted.
Instead, the guests fled, no thanks to Dest.
To regain the good graces of his teammates, Dest must demonstrate not only by apologizing, but also by his actions that we can trust him and be someone we can rely on, both on and off the field,” Robinson said.
Berhalter shared these opinions.
“We give people a second chance,” he said. “We work with people. We help them overcome such situations. We will do the same with Sergiño.[…]We need to have a good conversation with them to make sure we get them on the right track.”