Despite a 2-1 loss at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, they accomplished their goal by prevailing in the two-match series on total goals, 4-2, “but not in the way we would have wanted,” said coach Gregg Berhalter.
A 3-0 win on Thursday in Austin had given them a comfortable cushion. But Dest’s astonishing lack of composure resulted in a red card, leaving his team a man down and changing the tone of a quiet match. He will miss the Nations League semifinal on March 21 in Arlington, Texas.
Berhalter said Dest’s behavior was “concerning. … We pride ourselves on staying mentally disciplined.”
Dest apologized to the team, Berhalter said.
“We need to hold him accountable because it’s unforgivable,” the coach added. “We were very firm with our words after the game. He put several guys in danger, made several guys do a lot of extra work on this. [warm] climate.”
As interim coach works with successor, USWNT renews roster for China
The 23-year-old right back, a starter at the World Cup in Qatar, seemed bothered by the contact in the attacking zone. A moment later, when he couldn’t keep the ball inbounds near midfield, he pushed it into the stands.
Referee Walter López showed a yellow card. Dest complained. Fearing another card, his teammates Gio Reyna, Tim Ream and Yunus Musah tried to calm Dest down. He persisted. López showed a second yellow.
Ream, the captain, became enraged and pointed at Dest. Goalkeeper Matt Turner lunged at him and, in an effort to get Dest off the field faster, shoved him. Then Dest said something to Turner.
On Instagram, Dest called his actions “selfish and immature.” … It will not happen again”.
Left-back Antonee Robinson called it an “unprofessional moment.” … People can make mistakes, and it’s just a big mistake.”
In the locker room at halftime, the players had “chosen words” for Dest, Ream said. “It’s a complete lack of respect for the guys who are playing, for the guys who are on the bench,” the captain added. “It’s a lack of respect for the game itself, for the referees.”
Dest also received a red card in the 2022-23 Nations League semi-final against Mexico last summer, leaving him unavailable for the final.
“I just don’t want this to turn into a witch hunt,” Berhalter said. “He is a young player. He is a fantastic part of this team. He’s going to learn. He’s going to grow up. He made a silly mistake. He knows.”
Four minutes after Dest’s outburst, Reon Moore scored the equalizer. Eleven minutes into the second half, a powerful free kick from Alvin Jones put the Soca Warriors ahead.
The hosts, ranked 99th by FIFA, needed three more goals to win the series; tying it on aggregate would not have been enough to force extra time because the visitors, ranked 11th, led the first tiebreaker, away goals, with a Robinson header in the 25th minute.
The match was the U.S. team’s first visit to the Caribbean nation since another nightmare game: In October 2017, an unexpected 2-1 loss to a last-place opponent on the final day of the playoffs ended a streak of seven consecutive World Cup appearances.
After that catastrophic result, the Americans won the next four meetings by a 22-0 margin, including Thursday’s victory in Texas. However, that was not easy; The Soca Warriors kept the match scoreless until the end.
Midfielder Weston McKennie missed the second match due to a knee injury, joining fellow stalwarts Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah and Tyler Adams on the injured list.
The USMNT has a rising star in Gio Reyna. It’s learning to use it.
The Americans could have ended the back-and-forth score in 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 area. Robinson headed a 10-yard header into the right corner for his second goal in four days.
“Everything was going well and then one unfortunate moment put us at a big disadvantage,” Berhalter said.
After Dest’s red card, Moore held off Cameron Carter-Vickers and fired an angled shot over Turner. Early in the second half, Jones, who also scored in the 2017 upset, hit a free throw. Turner got a high shot with his knuckles, but couldn’t stop it.
The American team was shocked by the turn of events, and if not for Turner’s wayward shots and two quality saves, the pressure would have increased.
Instead, the visitors escaped, no thanks to Dest.
To get his teammates back into his good graces, Dest “has to show not just by saying sorry, but by his actions that we can trust him as someone we can trust, on and off the court,” Robinson said.
Berhalter echoed those sentiments.
“We give people second chances,” he said. “We work with people. We help them overcome cases like this. We will do the same with Sergiño. … We need to have good conversations with them to make sure we get them on the right path.”