U.S. Soccer and the Netherlands federation went head-to-head in the Women's World Cup final. Now they're in a battle over a men's national team fullback.
Sergiño Dest, the 18-year-old dual Dutch-American national who plays for Ajax, has drawn interest from the Netherlands and says he's keeping his options open as it relates to his international eligibility. Called up by U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter for the first time for upcoming friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, Dest spoke to reporters on Wednesday and revealed that the Dutch have indeed come calling as well.
"I'm happy for this opportunity. I'm happy that I'm here right now, but I don''t know for the future," Dest said. "You guys will see what happens at that time."
Dest indicated that the Dutch federation wanted to meet with him over a potential call-up to its U-23 side. He didn't say one way or another whether he would accept a U.S. call for Concacaf Nations League matches in October. If he does and he plays in either match vs. Canada or Cuba, it would cap-tie him to the U.S. and end the conversation.
Where the U.S. may have an advantage is in its long-standing commitment to Dest, who is eligible for the Americans through his father's citizenship. He played for the U.S. at the 2017 U-17 World Cup and at the 2019 U-20 World Cup and also happens to feature in a need area for the men's national team. When asked about Dest's commitment to the U.S., Berhalter told SI's Grant Wahl on Planet Fútbol TV that he was confident that U.S. Soccer is doing what it can to maintain his services for the long haul.
"He can definitely be an asset for our team in the fullback position, where traditionally we haven't had the depth that we'd like," Berhalter said. "In terms of his future with the United States team, he played for our Under-20 team in the World Cup. He's extremely enthusiastic about joining the team now. When I called him and talked about him joining the senior national team, he was ecstatic. Our job is to create the right enviornement, put him in position to be able to progress and succeed, and I'm confident that he'll be a member of the men's national team."
Dest has begun to play for Ajax's first team, helping the Dutch power qualify for the Champions League group stage in the playoff rounds this summer. He, along with fellow U.S. U-20 standout Alex Mendez, was named to Ajax's Champions League roster as well.