United States head coach Gregg Berhalter hit out at Sergino Dest for talking his way into a “dumb” red card against Trinidad and Tobago, with the full-back receiving two bookings in the space of 20 seconds.
The USA entered Monday’s CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final second leg, which also served as a qualifier for the 2024 Copa America, with a 3-0 advantage from Thursday’s first game between the teams.
They were in total control when Fulham’s Antonee Robinson gave them a 4-0 aggregate lead but were reduced to 10 men when Dest – who is on loan at PSV from Barcelona – was sent off in a bizarre incident.
Frustrated by a decision to award a throw-in against him in the 38th minute, Dest kicked the ball into the stands, and the resulting yellow card did nothing to calm him down as he berated the referee.
Several of Dest’s team-mates attempted to pull the right-back away from the referee, but it was too late as he talked himself into a second caution before sarcastically blowing kisses at the official.
Defenders Tim Ream and Robinson, as well as former Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner, were seen berating Dest as he left the field, while boss Berhalter was also furious.
“It is concerning because that’s not what we want to represent,” Berhalter said after the game, which finished 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago as the USA won 4-2 on aggregate.
“That’s not who we are as a group. We pride ourselves on 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.
“He’s a young player. He’s a fantastic part of this team, he’s going to learn. He’s going to grow. He made a dumb mistake. He knows that. He apologised to the team, and we move forward.”
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Berhalter also revealed Dest’s team-mates and coaches had some choice words for him in the dressing room, saying: “He apologised to the group. He said it’s not going to happen again.
“As a team, the players, the staff, we need to hold him accountable because it’s inexcusable. It really is. We were very firm with our words after the game.
“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.”
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Dest also apologised to supporters in an Instagram post after the game, calling his behaviour “unacceptable, selfish and immature” and pledging to learn from the incident.
Despite Dest’s sending-off, the USA’s aggregate triumph means they will feature at next year’s Copa America on home soil, with the final to be held in Miami on July 14, 2024.