Tim Ream slams “disrespectful” Sergino Dest for red card in USMNT Nations League loss to Trinidad and Tobago

If it is a captain’s job to hold players accountable for their actions, then USMNT veteran Tim Ream was logging overtime hours after a 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in the second leg of their CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal matchup.

“Overall, it’s a complete lack of respect for the guys that are playing, for the guys that are on the bench, and a lack of respect for the game itself, for the referees,” Ream said after the match regarding Sergino Dest’s brainless red card just before halftime that left USA a man down for the entire second half.

“We talk about it every time we come down here, every time you’re in a CONCACAF game, that anything can happen,” Ream continued. “For me, it’s just a feeling of disrespect, to be completely honest, and that’s something that he needs to understand.”

Dest’s 42nd-minute red card was that of a petulant child, as he earned two bookings in quick succession for dissent. The 23-year-old right-back felt aggrieved about some refereeing decisions and the red mist took hold. He booted the ball away in anger to earn his first booking, which preceded a verbal tirade, with Dest letting loose on the official. After vigorously and demonstratively berating the referee, he obliged with an immediate second yellow card.

MORE: Recap 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago that saw USMNT reach Copa America

During his outburst, Ream, goalkeeper Matt Turner, and other teammates pleaded with Dest to calm down to keep him focused on the match, but the PSV man wouldn’t listen and got himself sent off in short order. The frustration was visible immediately from the U.S. players, as Turner quite literally shoved Dest off the field as he tried to continue his rant after being shown red.

Despite the result, the United States advanced to the semifinals and qualified for the 2024 Copa America thanks to a 4-2 aggregate victory, but it came in bittersweet fashion as the players had to swallow yet another adverse result in their budding Caribbean house of horrors.

What did USMNT players say to Sergino Dest at halftime?

Tim Ream wasn’t able to relay the exact conversations had with Sergino Dest at halftime following his dismissal, but the USMNT captain made it clear that there was a heated exchange between the group.

“I think words with him [at halftime] would be putting it nicely, to be honest with you,” Ream told the media in his post-match availability. “There were a lot of choice words at halftime. At the end of the day we had to focus on the second half, so we couldn’t focus on that at the time, we had to dig in for 45 minutes to get a result.

“There’s not too many things I can say publicly that we said privately.”

When asked what it was that caused Dest to fly off the handle, Ream was unable to pinpoint what the issue was, and in the end concluded that whatever the reason, it didn’t warrant the eventual reaction.

“There was no explanation,” Ream said. “The best guess that we have is that he felt there was a foul in the attacking half, and then maybe felt the ball didn’t go out of play in the ball I played over to him, but I don’t think either one of those warranted the reaction that came.”

Ream was adamant that Dest’s actions adversely affected not only those U.S. players on the pitch, who had to navigate over 45 minutes at a man disadvantage, but it also caused some teammates on the bench to have their evenings ruined.

“It completely changes the game, but it also completely changes the plan for guys coming in off the bench, so it’s just [a feeling of] disrespect overall.”

Alongside Ream in the post-match media availability was Antonee Robinson, who said only Dest can come clean to his teammates and begin the process of moving forward.

“The only thing I think Sergino can do is hold his hand up and hold himself accountable,” Robinson said. “When he’s inevitably called upon again to be a part of this group, he’s got to show not just with his words saying ‘sorry’ but with his actions that he’s someone we can rely on, on and off the pitch, and be professional and show he’s learned from the situation.”

Sergino Dest apology for red card vs. Trinidad and Tobago

Dest posted an apology for the incident to his Instagram feed after the match.

“I want to apologize to my Teammates, Staff, Fans and whole nation for my behaviour it was unacceptable, Selfish and immature I let my team down! It’s something I have to learn from and it won’t happen again! [sic]” he wrote.

Former Liverpool, Ajax and Netherlands winger Ryan Babel was among those to respond with positive messages, writing: “Happens to the best.”

What did Gregg Berhalter say about Sergino Dest red card?

While the players pinned Sergino Dest to the wall for his actions, Gregg Berhalter was less inclined to talk about the incident.

Still, the U.S. head coach made it clear in his post match press conference that what happened was unacceptable, referring to the incident more than once as a “regrettable moment”.

“I think we were playing well, the first half was in order, everything was going smoothly, and then a regrettable moment that put us at a big disadvantage,” he said.

“It is concerning because that’s not what we want to represent, that’s not who we are as a group. We pride ourselves on staying mentally disciplined, battling through any kind of conditions whether there are good decisions or bad decisions. We’re supposed to keep going and respond in an appropriate way.”

Berhalter made it clear that the incident is being handled, and that Dest was apologetic to the team after the match.

“That obviously wasn’t the right response from Sergino. He apologized to the group, he said it’s not gonna happen again, and as a team, the players and staff, we have to hold him accountable because it’s inexcusable, it really is. We were very firm with our words after the game, because he put a number of guys in jeopardy, made a number of guys do a lot of extra work in this weather, and it’s inexcusable.”

However, as the questions about Dest began to flow repeatedly, Berhalter decided he’d had enough, saying “what I don’t want this to become is a witch hunt”.

“Serg has done a great job of maturing and growing over the years that he’s been with this group, and for him this has to be a learning experience, it will be a learning experience,” he said. “You know how we work: we give people second chances, we work with them to overcome instances like this, and we’ll do the same with Sergino. He’s a talented player and an important part of this team.”

Finally, Berhalter gave credit to the players on the field who dealt with the situation. They weren’t able to pull out the positive result in the match, but they still secured qualification to the Copa America by advancing to the semifinals.

“It was surreal. At halftime, we focused on the grind, we focused on what we needed to do to advance and reach our goals. Really, credit the guys on the field for their determination, it was a challenging pitch to play on in hot conditions, and the guys hung in there and did a good job. That’s what I’m proud of: we took a negative moment like this and turned it into an opportunity for guys to step up and be accountable.”

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