Kyle BonaguraESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
the The United States men’s national soccer team qualified for the 2024 Copa America on Monday evening despite losing 2-1 to host Trinidad and Tobago as American right back Serginho Dest was sent off for what coach Gregg Berhalter called a “stupid foul.”
Going into the game – which also served as a CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal – with a 3-0 aggregate win after Thursday’s win, the United States took complete control in the 25th minute on a goal from Anthony Robinson.
It seemed to be clear, as Trinidad and Tobago needed to beat the United States by five goals to overturn the result. But 14 minutes later, Dest was shown one of the most inexplicable red cards in the history of the US national team.
Seemingly upset by the official decision taken moments earlier, Dest kicked the ball first into the stands. Much to the dismay of his teammates around him, most notably Giovanni Reyna, Dest continued talking to the referee, and was shown a red card via a second yellow card.
“It’s troubling 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, and fighting through any kind of circumstance, whether it’s good decisions or bad decisions. We’re supposed to keep going and respond in an appropriate way, and that was clearly not the right response from Sergino.” .
The United States played the match with ten players, and won 4-2 on aggregate, despite losing in the return match. Dest apologized to his teammates and fans on Instagram after the match.
After receiving a red card earlier this year against Mexico in the UEFA Nations League semi-final, Dest became 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 UEFA Nations League semi-final next March.
“He apologized to the group. He said it wouldn’t happen again,” Berhalter said. “As a team, the players and the staff, we need to hold him accountable because it is unforgivable. It really is. We were very firm in our words after the match.
“He put a number of people at risk and made a number of people do a lot of extra work in this weather, and that is inexcusable.”
When Dest came off the field, he was given the task by captain Tim Ream and needed to be pushed off the field by goalkeeper Matt Turner as he headed towards the American bench and into the dressing room.
In a television interview after the match, Robinson described Dest’s antics as a “moment of unprofessionalism”.
Berhalter was not willing to speculate on whether Dest could receive additional punishment for his actions.
“He’s a young player. He’s a great part of this team,” Berhalter said. “He will learn. He will improve. He made a stupid mistake. He knows it. He apologized to the team, and we move forward.”
All ten CONMEBOL teams will participate in the Copa America tournament, in addition to six CONCACAF teams, and the United States will host it. The tournament will begin on June 20 in Atlanta and conclude on July 14 in Miami.
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