Kyle Bonagura, ESPN Staff WriterNov 21, 2023, 06:00 AM ET
- Covers the Pac-12.
- Joined ESPN successful 2014.
- Attended Washington State University.
It stood to crushed that the United States men's nationalist squad would person origin to observe connected Monday. With qualification for the Copa America and the Concacaf Nations League each but sealed aft a 3-0 location win successful Thursday's archetypal limb of its Nations League quarterfinal against Trinidad and Tobago, the 2nd limb figured to beryllium mostly ceremonial.
The desired effect did, indeed, travel -- the U.S. officially punched some tickets -- but lone aft a 2-1 loss successful Port of Spain successful which right-back Sergiño Dest earned 1 of the much bizarre reddish cards 1 volition ever see. It was thing but celebratory.
"It's evidently bittersweet due to the fact that each azygous crippled -- akin to the Costa Rica crippled successful the past crippled of [World Cup] qualifying -- we privation to triumph and we're alert that our distant games successful Concacaf are tough," left-back Antonee Robinson said. "We by nary means turned up reasoning it's going to beryllium easy, taking thing for granted and it stings a spot much due to the fact that we were comfy successful the crippled until we spell down to 10 men. So, it's disappointing."
Before the crippled started, Trinidad and Tobago had a determination to make. Did it privation to spell for the occurrence and effort to erase the 3-0 shortage to advance? Or did it privation to bounds the harm and spell for a respectable scoreline successful beforehand of its location fans? The archetypal enactment meant abandoning the benignant they played with successful Thursday's archetypal limb successful Austin erstwhile it sat successful a debased artifact -- adjacent earlier going down to 10 men erstwhile Noah Powder was sent disconnected -- and refused to nonstop numbers guardant adjacent successful the uncommon moments of transition. Sticking with that attack connected Monday would person represented a question of the achromatic flag.
For the archetypal 20 minutes oregon so, Trinidad and Tobago intelligibly harbored immoderate anticipation it could get backmost into it. The U.S. inactive dominated possession and controlled everything astir the match, but Trinidad and Tobago was consenting to instrumentality the modulation moments erstwhile they came to effort to bargain a extremity against the tally of play.
With the crippled a small much unfastened than connected Thursday, it was lone a substance of clip earlier the U.S. broke done and that came successful the 25th infinitesimal erstwhile Robinson headed successful a transverse from Dest. With the distant goals regularisation successful place, Robinson's extremity should person made the last 65 minutes an workout successful winding down the timepiece for some teams. Trinidad and Tobago would person needed to outscore the U.S. by 5 goals the remainder of the mode to advance, a script truthful implausible the lone conceivable mode backmost would beryllium for the U.S. to person aggregate reddish cards and play a fewer men down.
Which brings america the embarrassing barrage of immaturity from Dest. Seemingly upset with a telephone from moments earlier, the PSV Eindhoven subordinate punted a shot into the stands retired of vexation and upon receiving a yellowish paper helium continued jawing with the referee -- covering his rima to stave disconnected the articulator readers -- to prime up a 2nd successful speedy succession. Based connected the reactions from the likes of teammates Giovanni Reyna, Tim Ream, Robinson and Matt Turner, immoderate Dest said was wholly retired of line. Ream, successful particular, was visibly irate with Dest, having words with him connected the field.
"I deliberation 'words with him' would beryllium putting it nicely to beryllium wholly honorable with you," Ream said. "And determination were a batch of prime words astatine half-time, but astatine the extremity of the time we had to absorption connected the 2nd half, truthful we couldn't absorption connected that concern astatine the time. There's not excessively galore things that I tin accidental present publically that we said privately."
It was specified a blatant series of selfishness and deficiency of basal knowing of the infinitesimal that it appeared similar Dest was trying to get sent off.
"There was nary explanation," Ream added. "The champion conjecture that we person is helium thought determination was a foul down successful the attacking fractional and past possibly helium felt that the shot didn't spell retired of play connected the shot that I played implicit to him. But I don't deliberation either 1 of those truly warrant the absorption that came."
Reyna, who it was planned would beryllium substituted astatine half-time, came disconnected for right-back Joe Scally successful the 42nd minute, leaving the U.S. with an uncomfortable two-striker, three-midfielder operation successful beforehand of a backmost four. A infinitesimal aboriginal came an equalizing extremity from Trinidad and Tobago and portion the goal, nor the 1 that followed aboriginal successful the 2nd half, did not person an interaction connected qualification, the tenor of the crippled was wholly antithetic with the U.S. down a man.
For a squad made up astir wholly of Europe-based players, the past happening they needed aft traveling thousands of miles was to exert unnecessary vigor successful a hot, muggy ambiance successful the Caribbean. That's wherever Ream drilled down further.
"It's a implicit deficiency of respect for the guys that are playing, for the guys that are connected the bench, feeling of a deficiency of respect for the crippled itself, for the referees," Ream said. "We knew, and we speech astir it each clip we travel down here, each clip you're successful a Concacaf crippled that thing tin happen.
"It's conscionable a feeling of disrespect to beryllium wholly honorable with you. And that's thing that, hey, helium needs to recognize due to the fact that it wholly changes the game, but past it wholly changes immoderate benignant of imaginable program of guys coming successful and subs disconnected the bench, throws that wholly retired of whack."
Dest said atrocious successful a station connected Instagram pursuing the game, saying, "I privation to apologize to my Teammates, Staff, Fans and full federation for my behaviour it was unacceptable, Selfish and immature I fto my squad down! It's thing I person to larn from and it won't hap again!"
Coach Gregg Berhalter voiced his displeasure, too. He called Dest's enactment "concerning," "dumb," and "surreal." It's wide helium knows Dest needs to beryllium held accountable for his actions, but stopped abbreviated of entertaining the thought helium could look further interior discipline. (Dest volition beryllium unavailable for the Nations League semifinal successful March done suspension.) If Dest's behaviour came from a fringe player, it was the benignant of happening that could person led to ostracization. But he's not. He is by acold the team's champion enactment astatine right-back and should beryllium a cardinal subordinate astatine adjacent summer's Copa American and beyond.
"Serg has done a large occupation of maturing and increasing implicit the years that he's been with the radical and for him, this has to beryllium a learning experience," Berhalter said. "It volition beryllium a learning experience. You cognize however we work. We springiness radical 2nd chances. We enactment with people, we assistance them flooded instances similar this, truthful we volition bash the aforesaid with Sergiño.
"He's a talented player, an important portion of our squad and we request to person bully conversations with him to marque definite we get him connected the close track."
Robinson echoed that sentiment erstwhile helium said: "I bash similar to deliberation that the team, we are a beauteous forgiving group. We recognize that we're a young group. I mean radical tin marque mistakes and it's conscionable a large mistake.
"It's not truly immoderate excuse -- the lone happening I deliberation Sergiño tin bash is clasp his manus up, clasp himself accountable. And erstwhile helium is inevitably called upon again to beryllium a portion of this group, he's got to show, not conscionable the connection saying sorry, but amusement with his actions that we tin spot him to beryllium idiosyncratic we tin trust on, connected and disconnected the pitch, and beryllium professional."
Whether that adjacent engagement comes successful March, contempt his looming suspension, oregon June, up of Copa America, remains to beryllium seen. Regardless, this was the past happening the squad needed to extremity an already chaotic 2023.