Ajax’s Sergino Dest and Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent Ready for a Permanent Place on the USMNT

Posted By Peter Nolan on September 5, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
LineUSMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130

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Short Hills, NJ – “I keep the options open,” said Sergino Dest. And with that honest answer to a far from simple question. Sergino Dest sent all of the U.S. Soccer loving world into a panic.

But is the US Soccer loving world ready for him and Josh Sargent?

Is Dest the best American defensive prospect?

SHORT HILLS, NJ- SEPTEMBER 04: Sergino Dest #2 of the United States Men’s National Team smiles as he answers questions from reporters during the interview session leading up to the Friendly match between the United States and Mexico. The interview was held at the Hilton Hotel in Shortt Hills, NJ on September 04, 2019, USA. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

The exciting 18-year-old Ajax first-teamer, UEFA Champions League competitor, and U.S/Netherlands dual national wasn’t trying to send all of the U.S. soccer-loving world into a panic, but he did. When you’re eligible to play for the country you were born and raised in, i.e. the Netherlands, your every utterance raises that possibility.

Dest is a lightning-quick fullback equally comfortable on the left or the right. He’s eminently dangerous in attack and steadily improving defensively. Although English is not his native language, Dest did his best to explain that yes, the Dutch Federation contacted him, though fortunately, perhaps for U.S. hopes, that contact, “was not like the first team yet. It was like the under 23s. And they want to have a meeting with me.”

I keep the options open.

The U.S. can cap tie Dest at next month’s CONCACAF Nations League. Again Dest was noncommital about the prospects of this, saying, “I can’t make that decision.”

But all is not lost for American soccer. Dest is eligible for the U.S. through his father, Kenneth, and has been a regular member of youth teams for the U.S., including the U17 and U20 World Cups.

And Dest doesn’t underestimate that experience. “I say [playing for the U.S. youth teams is] a big opportunity. And I’m also like, proud to play for them. And for me, they give me a lot of chances when I was younger. So I respect that.”

Asked how his family feels about Dest lining out for the U.S., Dest said, “Yeah, my whole family’s proud of me. I’m the first real soccer player in the family. Like everybody supporting me.” Dest expects his father and his Uncle John to be friendly faces in what will be a largely pro-Mexico crowd Friday at MetLife Stadium.

After being passed over, Josh Sargent ready for his moment

SHORT HILLS, NJ- SEPTEMBER 04: Josh Sargent #19 of the United States Men’s National Team answers questions from reporters during the interview session leading up to the Friendly match between the United States and Mexico. The interview was held at the Hilton Hotel in Shortt Hills, NJ on September 04, 2019, USA. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

Another young player on the rise for the USMNT is striker Josh Sargent, who made the highlight reels with his first goal of the season for Werder Bremen in a 3-2 win over Augsburg this past Sunday.

Sargent was passed over by Berhalter for the Gold Cup squad. The timing of that decision raised eyebrows, as it also ruled the 19-year-old out of the U20 World Cup.

Sitting with a group of reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Sargent’s candor was admirable as he recounted his feelings regarding the summer snub.

“I think it took a few days for me to really calm down about the situation,” Sargent told reporters. “But like I said, when I had the time to think about it, you know, I was able to be with my club, the whole preseason. And it was a very good opportunity for myself. And I thought I did a good job with that. And now I’m in a very happy place with myself and with my football now what’s going on, so looking to build off of that here at this camp.”

Sargent stressed that any bad feelings he may have had have been put aside. “Of course I was upset right after the Gold Cup. But you know, there’s no hard feelings, it’s football.”

Sargent used that time wisely and had a productive preseason, only to find himself on the bench for Bremen’s first couple of matches. Then a start versus Augsburg resulted in a wonder goal when Sargent flipped the ball over the keeper’s head before rounding the hapless custodian and finishing in superb style.

The man known as the Red Menace smiled when High Press Soccer brought up his first goal of 2019. Sargent is still clearly relishing it, as do his teammates. “They’re all very happy for me. And it’s a great, great group of guys in the locker room. And that was, I think, not just the goal, or how I scored it. But the goal itself was very good for myself. Moving on to these next games, and it’s given me good confidence. So I feel great.”

Following up, HPS asked Sargent about his decision to pursue his career in Germany, and would he recommend it despite a tough first season, where he struggled for playing time.

“I think it’s really based on the person themselves, how they feel. I mean, it’s a different situation for every player. So whatever they feel most comfortable with, and whatever they think will challenge themselves. I think that they’ll go with that.”

Sargent was asked how he dealt with that bench time. “Yeah, with the youth teams and growing up, I was always used to, you know, being one of the best players, always being one of the coaches’ favorite. So to go on the opposite side of that, it was pretty tough.”

Sargent noted, “My confidence kind of hurt a little bit. So over the summer, I was able to relax. And at the beginning of this season, kind of get that back. So I feel good now.”

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Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan has been on the soccer beat for many years now, covering the United States Men's and Women's teams, from the SnowClasico to Azteca and back again. Along with the US national teams, Peter will provide insight into the MLS and NWSL, with a focus on the NY Red Bulls and NYCFC.

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