US coach Berhalter slams 'inexcusable' Dest after Trinidad defeat
- Mike Johnshon
- 21 Nov, 2023
The United States coach, Gregg Berhalter, strongly criticized the "unacceptable" expulsion of defender Sergino Dest on Monday following his team's 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Nations League.
Despite the defeat, the US progressed to the Nations League semifinals and secured their spot in next year's Copa America with a 4-2 overall win in the quarterfinals.
However, what was supposed to be a straightforward second leg in Port of Spain became more challenging after Dest was sent off just before halftime.
At the time of Dest's dismissal, the US was leading 1-0 due to Antonee Robinson's header in the 25th minute and seemed to be comfortably advancing to the next stage.
Yet, the game's dynamics shifted dramatically in the 39th minute due to Dest's impulsive actions.
The US defender received a yellow card from referee Walter Lopez for petulantly kicking the ball away and subsequently earned a second yellow card for persistently arguing with the Guatemalan official.
Trinidad leveled the score through Reon Moore in the 43rd minute and then secured the winning goal via Alvin Jones' free-kick in the 57th minute.
While Trinidad didn't appear likely to score the five goals needed to win on aggregate, Berhalter couldn't conceal his anger at Dest's avoidable red card following the match.
"He put a number of guys in jeopardy, made a number of guys do a lot of extra work in this weather, and it's inexcusable," Berhalter said of Dest.
"We pride ourselves in staying mentally disciplined, battling through any type of conditions, whether they're good decisions or bad decisions. We're supposed to keep going and respond in an appropriate way, and that obviously wasn't the right response from Sergino."
Following his red card and while trudging off the field, Dest received strong criticism from teammates Tim Ream and Matt Turner. Subsequently, he posted an apology on Instagram after the match.
"I want to apologise to my teammates, staff and fans and whole nation for my behavior; it was unacceptable, selfish, and immature," Dest wrote on Instagram.
"I let my team down. It's something I have to learn from and it won't happen again."
US goalscorer Robinson described Dest's dismissal as a "moment of unprofessionalism."
"Disappointed we didn't get the win," Robinson said. "We started the game pretty well and had things under control and then a moment of unprofessionalism kind of went against us.
"But we'll take it," he added. "We're in the semifinals of the Nations League and we're in the Copa America, so it's still been a successful break."
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