Sergino Dest chooses United States over Netherlands

Sergino Dest - U-20 World Cup - Close up

A dual-national eligible for both the US men's national team and the Netherlands, Sergiño Dest has made his decision and plans to represent the USMNT internationally.

Dest, 18, features for the United States at various youth levels but grew up in the Netherlands. He made his senior USMNT debut after starring at the U-20 World Cup and broke into the Ajax first team this season, sparking overtures from the Dutch federation.

“I am happy to announce that I have decided to keep playing for the U.S. Men's National Team,” Dest said in a statement. “Of course, it was a tough decision for me when the Dutch Men's National Team showed their interest, but I have built up a very good feeling with Team USA over the last couple of years and I strongly believe in the plans and potential of U.S. Soccer. I am therefore dedicated to making the next 10-15 years a big success and will do my utmost to help the team play for titles.”

Dest is yet to be cap-tied, staying out of the USMNT's Nations League debut last month, which would have sealed his future to US Soccer. He took the month to make his decision. The first chance for Dest to feature in a competitive match for the USMNT is November 15 against Canada. 

The fullback has earned a regular role with the Dutch giants, making 15 appearances so far this season, including four assists. He played opposite national teammate Christian Pulisic when Ajax faced Chelsea in the Champions League last week. 

U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart and men's national team head coach Gregg Berhalter met with the player and his father the day after that match in Amsterdam. 

“We had a long conversation – Sergiño, myself, Earnie, and his father, over lunch today,” Berhalter said via a phone interview from Amsterdam with former U.S. internationals Tony Meola and Brian Dunseth on Sirius XM FC’s “Counter Attack” on Thursday.

“I think the important point is just reiterating him being part of our program, what he’s done in our program and how he’s performed at the U-17 level and the U-20 level. He’s played in a couple World Cups for us. To him there’s a comfort to that, and it’s nice to hear that from him and for him to appreciate how we’ve been there for him.”

Dest is an attack-minded fullback, comfortable on either side of defense and is one of the brightest teenagers in the Eredivisie.

“We are excited that Sergiño will continue with our program,” Stewart said. “In all of our discussions, Sergiño expressed the comfort he feels within the group and his appreciation for the commitment the Federation has made along the way. As a dual national myself, I understand the choices that these young players face. Our job is to provide a clear pathway and maintain honest and open communication, and then ultimately it comes down to a personal decision.”

Dest is expected to be part of the USMNT squad for next month’s must-win Concacaf Nations League matches against Canada on Nov. 15 in Orlando and Cuba on Nov. 19 in George Town, Cayman Islands. With the matches coming in official competition, an appearance in either game would officially tie the defender permanently to the USA.