The United States men's national team has the potential to score a major victory long before they step on the field next month to participate in the CONCACAF Nations League. All eyes are on Sergino Dest, the talented young defender from Ajax, and whether he chooses to represent the U.S. in the senior matches. The first opportunity will come on Oct. 11 against Cuba in Washington D.C.
The 18-year-old right back, who can also play left back as he did for the U.S. this month, is likely going to be called up for the games barring injury. Since it is an official competition, he would be cap-tied to the United States if he makes an appearance and not eligible to switch allegiances to the Netherlands where he was born. Dest played for the U.S. in two friendlies this month and was one of the bright spots on the squad, and he's also started consistently for Ajax this season.
Although things seem to trend in the favor of the United States, the Dutch are going to make a hard push for him. A source told CBS Sports that the Dutch federation has already reached out and remains hopeful in Dest to switch from the United States to the Netherlands before the call-up. Another source close to the player believes Ajax will "put the pressure on him" to switch, citing the prestige of the historic Dutch national team, the way manager Ronaldo Koeman gives young players minutes and more. Of course, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter hasn't been shy in giving young guys minutes either and was wise to give Dest two starts this month.
For now, the feeling is that the U.S. is still the favorite to land him. Dest first represented the U.S. in 2016 with the U-17 national team and has played in two youth World Cups for the Americans.
"I think he must be loyal to the country who supported him developing, in my opinion," one source said. "My advice would be to stay with USA."
With the U.S., Dest would have the chance to potentially be a starter moving forward and a much more realistic path to playing in a World Cup, potentially at 2022. With the Dutch national team, which plays a back three, he would have players ahead of him like current Ajax teammate Daley Blind and Juventus star Matthijs de Ligt. Those close to him don't believe that Koeman has directly reached out to the player, though it wouldn't be a surprise if it happens soon. Koeman used to play and coach for Ajax.
Also don't be surprised if Berhalter takes a trip to Europe to meet with Dest before the games next month after just having 10 days with him in the states. For now, the U.S. should feel good about its chances.