The United States qualified for the 2024 Copa America on Monday night despite a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago.
The Americans held a one-goal lead in the first half in Port of Spain, Trinidad and appeared firmly in control of the match before Sergiño Dest was shown a red card in the 39th minute after receiving two yellow cards in less than one minute. weird sequence.
Dest received a yellow card for picking up the ball and returning it after the ball was called out of bounds by the linesman. Dest then turned around and began speaking to the center referee, covering his mouth as he did so and gesturing to the linesman. Dest seemed upset that an earlier foul against him was not reported. Several teammates, including Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah and Tim Ream, tried to push Dest away, but he continued talking to the referee and eventually blew a kiss. At that time he received a second yellow card, therefore red, and was sent off.
Ream and goalkeeper Matt Turner were seen shouting at Dest as he left the field and eventually entered the locker room. American coach Gregg Berhalter immediately replaced right back Joe Scally in the match for Gio Reyna, but four minutes after Dest’s expulsion, Trinidad leveled the match on a goal from Reon Moore.
“I want to apologize to my teammates, my staff, my fans and the entire nation for my behavior,” Dest said in an Instagram post after the match. “It was unacceptable, selfish and immature. I let my team down! This is something I need to learn from and it won’t happen again!
The United States held a three-goal lead going into the first leg and after Antonee Robinson’s diving header opened the scoring on Monday night, they held a four-goal advantage with an away goal meaning Trinidad and Tobago would need to score five unanswered goals to knock the United States out of the Nations League.
T&T took a 2-1 lead on Alvin Jones’ free kick in the 57th minute that found its way into Turner’s hands. It was a familiar score for the United States in Trinidad. They lost 2-1 in Couva, Trinidad in 2017, their last visit to the island nation, in the match that eliminated them from the 2018 World Cup. The United States, however, managed to limit the damage at that stage and held on to secure their place in the Copa America.
With the victory, the United States also advances to the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals in March. The United States won the first two editions of the Nations League and now has the opportunity to make it a third in a row.
What they say
“It’s crazy, it’s unacceptable,” former USMNT star DaMarcus Beasley said on the TNT halftime show. “It’s unacceptable. What he did earlier to put his team, put the American team under that kind of pressure before the second half, before a real game that counts. And now he misses semi-final I would love to know what made him so upset that he kicked a ball out of the stadium and then started yelling at his teammates as you left the field.
Beasley was asked what Dest’s teammates would say to him at halftime.
“I’m just going to my OGs. If it was Gregg Berhalter when he was a player and he went to meet Sergiño Dest in the locker room, all hell would break loose,” Beasley said. “Same thing with Clint Dempsey. Same thing with Carlos Bocanegra. The captains of the national team. They are not going to let this situation pass. »
“I understand when you hit the ball out of the ballpark, you get upset, but then you go on and you go on, you blow kisses to the referee,” Beasley said. “For what? Because you didn’t get (a foul handed to you). This is baby behavior. I don’t understand this and I’m still upset about it.
After the match, Berhalter spoke about Dest’s red card.
“He apologized to the group; he said it wouldn’t happen again,” Berhalter said. “As a team, players, staff, we have to hold him accountable, because it’s inexcusable, it really is. We were very firm in our comments after the match. He put a number of guys in danger, made a number of guys do a lot of extra work in that time. And that’s excusable.
Berhalter answered several questions about Dest before saying he didn’t want it to be a “witch hunt” and said the team would work to move forward after Monday’s red card.
“Serge has done a great job of maturing and growing over the years within the group and, for him, this has to be a learning experience,” Berhalter said. “It will be a learning experience. The way we work, we give people second chances, we work with people, we help them overcome situations like this. So we will do the same thing with Sergio. He is a talented player, an important part of our team. And we need to have good conversations with him (and) make sure we get him on the right path.
Ream called Dest’s actions “a complete lack of respect for the guys that are playing, for the guys that are on the bench.”
The U.S. “A” team won’t be together again until March, when they meet in the Nations League semifinal on March 21. The teams that will join them in these matches have yet to be determined.
Panama holds a 3-0 overall lead over Costa Rica and will host them later Monday evening. Canada holds a 2-1 lead over Jamaica and Honduras has a 2-0 advantage over Mexico. These matches are scheduled to be played on Tuesday.
The United States traditionally holds a camp in January for MLS players, although that camp has not yet been announced. However, this could be a great opportunity to attract Olympic-eligible players and, as is traditionally the case, expand the depth of the pool.
(Photo: Carmen Mandato/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)
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