After struggling against El Salvador, spotlight is on Sergiño Dest to deliver for USMNT

After struggling against El Salvador, spotlight is on Sergiño Dest to deliver for USMNT

Sergiño Dest has played on some of the biggest stages the sport of soccer has to offer, and after a season spent as a starter for FC Barcelona, the U.S. men’s national team fullback isn’t short on confidence.

What he was short on in Thursday’s World Cup qualifying draw against El Salvador was effectiveness, and after putting in one of the most disappointing performances of his young national team career, Dest heads into Sunday’s showdown with Canada under pressure to deliver far better.

As far as USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter is concerned, Dest will continue to have the ability to try and make things happen.

“We want to give him freedom to be creative,” Berhalter said of Dest. “As long as that fits within our game plan, that’s what we want. He’s an artist type of a player, has a real creative side to him, has an amazing amount of skill and technical ability. We want to give him the ball and let him do good things. It’s not often that you see fullbacks with that amount of talent.

“It’s up to us to get him involved and get him involved good positions where he could be decisive because it’s nice to be able to, to dribble by guys at midfield,” Berhalter said. “But for me, it’s really about the impact we’re having and goals and assists. How are we getting the ball in front of goal, how are we scoring goals or making assists, even in the fullback position.”

What Dest won’t be short on is motivation, as he faces off against Alphonso Davies in one of the better duels Concacaf has to offer, and a battle that will go a long way in determining who wins on Sunday.

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Dest got the better of Davies when they squared off in the USMNT’s Concacaf Nations League win in November of 2019. Dest was dominant and Davies struggled to make an impact as the Americans rolled to a 4-1 win.

If Dest can win his battle against Davies on Sunday, then the USMNT will have a good chance of beating Canada for a third straight time, while earning a valuable three points in its quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.