Kyle BonaguraESPN Writer3 minute read
The United States men’s national soccer team qualified for the 2024 Copa América on Monday night despite a 2-1 loss to host Trinidad and Tobago in which U.S. right back Sergiño Dest was sent off so the Coach Gregg Berhalter called it a “dumb mistake.”
Coming into the match, which also served as a Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal matchup, with an aggregate score of 3-0 after a victory on Thursday, the United States took complete control in the 25th minute with a goal from Antonee Robinson.
From there everything seemed clear, as Trinidad and Tobago needed to beat the United States by five goals to change the result. But 14 minutes later, Dest received one of the most inexplicable red cards in U.S. team history.
Seemingly upset by a referee’s decision moments earlier, Dest first kicked the ball into the stands. To the dismay of his teammates around him, especially Giovanni Reyna, Dest continued talking to the referee, earning himself a red card for a second yellow.
“It’s concerning because that’s not what we want to represent,” Berhalter said. “That’s not who we are as a group. We pride ourselves on staying mentally disciplined, fighting against any type of conditions, whether good decisions or bad decisions. We’re supposed to move forward and respond appropriately, and that obviously wasn’t the answer. correct by Sergiño.”
The United States finished the match with 10 players, winning 4-2 on aggregate despite losing the second leg. Dest apologized to his teammates and fans on Instagram after the game.
After receiving a red card earlier this year against Mexico in the Nations League semifinals, Dest becomes the first American player since 1990 to receive two red cards in the same calendar year. He will not be available to play in the Nations League semi-finals in March.
“He apologized to the group. He said it won’t happen again,” Berhalter said. “As a team, the players, the staff, we have to hold him accountable because it’s unforgivable. It really is. And we were very firm with our words after the game.
“He put a number of guys in danger, he made a number of guys do a lot of extra work in this weather, and it’s inexcusable.”
As Dest walked off the field, captain Tim Ream berated him and goalkeeper Matt Turner had to push him off the field as he walked back toward the United States bench and toward the locker room.
In a post-game television interview, Robinson called Dest’s antics “a moment of unprofessionalism.”
Berhalter declined to speculate on whether Dest could receive additional punishment for his actions.
“He’s a young player. He’s a fantastic part of this team,” Berhalter said. “He’s going to learn. He’s going to grow. He made a dumb mistake. He knows it. He apologized to the team and we moved on.”
The Copa América will feature all 10 CONMEBOL teams along with six Concacaf teams and will be hosted by the United States. The tournament will begin on June 20 in Atlanta and will conclude on July 14 in Miami.