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An ode to the irreplaceable, unpredictable (and now injured) Sergino Dest

Try as the USMNT might ahead of the Copa America, Dest can’t be replaced.

5 min read

Ah, the pre-tournament injury. It’s something of a soccer tradition, one the U.S. men’s national team is no stranger to. 

Before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar it was Miles Robinson and Chris Richards, who both went down and missed the tournament, causing every fan to fear a partner-palooza in the middle of the defense. Looking further back, I can fondly recall sitting in a bar in Madrid with a friend before the 2002 World Cup, debating how the U.S. would cope without Chris Armas (turns out, pretty well). And then, of course, there was the instance of not only the entire roster but U.S. Soccer as a whole suffering some sort of months-long, full-body dry heave that led to missing the 2018 World Cup. 

The takeaway? The soccer gods will always perform some kind of cull on your squad plans before an important summer. 

And so it is with Sergino Dest, who will miss the upcoming Copa America with a knee injury suffered in training with PSV. The clear starter at right back for the United States, his absence leaves the USMNT without something they can’t just pick up at the local bodega. Dest is an agent of chaos. Of unpredictability. Of the possibility of doing literally anything from the unlikeliest spot. Of summoning something from the ether. 

Most of those things tend to drive fear into the hearts of fans and coaches. Coaches of any sport generally fear anything with more than a hint of the occult to it. 

It tells us something about Dest’s value, then, that even under Gregg Berhalter and his five-step-plan-to-take-the-trash-out ways (Step 1: Tie Bag, Step 2: Walk Outside, Step 3: Open Can, Step 4: Drop Bag, Step 5: …Profit?), the 23-year-old has been installed on the right side of the backline.

Dest is heavier on vibes than any other player in the USMNT’s pool. The guy eats a baguette before every game. The guy wore a knockoff Chicago Bulls jersey and shorts to Lionel Messi’s tearful FC Barcelona farewell. The guy wears a barber cape with his own initialed logo on it while getting a trim. His exact aura is hard to quantify, but Berhalter knows there’s something there that the team needs. You don’t need to know how mushrooms work, y’know? 

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