DOHA, Qatar – In their round of 16 encounter against the United States on Saturday Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal and the USA are aware that stopping Christian Pulisic, who Van Gaal stated on Friday “can help a team win,” is crucial.
Sergio Dest, the right defender for the Oranje, may pose a greater threat to skipper Daley Blind.
Greater than most people, Blind is familiar with Dest. Blind, a left wingback, will directly oppose the 22-year-old American of Dutch descent because the two were teammates at Ajax during the 2019–20 season.
On the night of the game, Blind said at a press conference, “Sergio broke through at Ajax at an early age – you could immediately see that he had a lot of potential and quality.” He is an excellent player.
For Gregg Berhalter’s team in Qatar, the recent results have been excellent. He was one of the Americans’ better players so far, despite having a minor leg injury upon arrival from playing for Italy’s AC Milan just before the competition.
Dest has a reputation for being able to rush into the attack; in fact, it was Dest who rushed forward from his defensive position to set up Pulisic’s game-winning goal against Iran in the group stage finale that advanced the United States to the knockout stage. However, Dest’s play in his own half of the field has consistently stood out.
With his approach and mentality, Sergio has raised the bar, according to Berhalter, who specifically mentioned this World Cup. “He has been outstanding for us this camp, and I can’t say enough about his defending in the penalty area.”
Best qualified to represent both nations on an international level because he was born to a Dutch mother and an American father and raised not far from Amsterdam. While progressing through the ranks at the renowned Ajax academy, the Netherlands youth national teams ignored him, and he ended up playing for the U.S. under-17 and U-20 teams.
Dest was courted by Ronald Koeman, the manager of the Netherlands at the time, as he made his way into Ajax’s first squad and subsequently made an impact in the UEFA Champions League a few months after making his international debut for the United States in the 2019 U-20 World Cup. Earnie Stewart, the sporting director for U.S. Soccer, traveled to Amsterdam to persuade Berhalter to continue playing for the Red, White, and Blue.
For the most part, Berhalter said Friday, “it was just about me connecting with him, talking to him about what we believed his role could be for us, what we think the plans are about this group over the next eight years, and afterwards introducing him to his teammates and integrating him into our environment.” It’s a very close-knit club that welcomes new members, and I believe that’s what finally influenced his choice.
It fit like a glove. Tyler Adams, the captain for the United States, remarked, “He was a quiet person, just getting to know everyone. “But one thing you’ll find in Sergio is he’s quite the character when he’s comfortable. He’s just an incredible human being to begin with. But off the field, he’s enjoyable to be around, and he’s brought such much energy into this team. He’s so relaxed and calm in every scenario, even before games,” the coach said.
In order to defeat the Netherlands, who are favored, the US will need Dest to maintain his composure. Without a doubt, Dest was keeping track of the time.
After the Iran match, he remarked, “It’s going to be enjoyable.” We have the same dream, yet they want to go through because I was born there, speak the local language, and know all these guys.
It’s going to be a lot of joy playing against the nation I was born in, so I can’t wait to play the next match,” he said of the U.S. team, adding, “We have a brotherhood.”
He’ll be up for the task too; he’s a great competitor, and beating some of his former teammates would be the icing on the cake.I’m hoping he has a great game,” Berhalter said.