It's been quite the ride for Sergiño Dest over the few months.
He was a breakout star of the U-20 World Cup, where he helped lead the United States to a quarterfinal finish. Then, after impressing in preseason with Dutch giants Ajax this summer, the 18-year-old earned a spot on the senior squad. Before long, he was starting Champions League games.
Now, with all that success comes a decision: Holland or USA?
The Dutch-American teenager is not quite ready to pledge one way or the other, as he was not on the USMNT's latest squad for Concacaf Nations League matches next week. If he was with the team and played in either of the games against Cuba or Canada, Dest would be cap-tied to the US. As it stands, he can still file a one-time switch to the Netherlands.
"We've had a number of conversations with Sergiño, and we're going to leave the content of those conversations private," Berhalter told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. "They were positive talks and we're going to leave it at that."
Berhalter responded with a similar answer to a follow-up about the expected timeframe for a final decision, though later gave his thoughts on cap-tying players, a question that was not specifically asked about Dest or any other player.
"When you talk about some of these practices that some of these countries are doing, the players are also aware of that," Berhalter said. "In Holland, there's been a backlash of the team playing guys for one cap then not calling them in anymore. For us, it's about doing what makes sense and trying to get as many on board with the program, and doing it at the right times. There's something to be said if a young player is performing at a good enough level, playing first-team football, he should get called into the national team."
Later on Wednesday, following Ajax's 3-0 win over Valencia in the Champions League, Dest told FOX Sports that he had not decided to represent either conuntry, but also laid out a possible time frame for doing so:
The latest from Sergino Dest:— Leander Schaerlaeckens (@LeanderAlphabet) October 3, 2019
-- "I haven't decided yet on either one. I need more time."
-- "I've said I'm still figuring it and turned down both [the USMNT and the Netherlands]."
-- "I need to think carefully. So I left it alone this time. I hope to have decided next month." https://t.co/NMY0ED4t13
Berhalter did elaborate on the possibility of Dest playing with the US U-23s, ostensibly a compromise to keep his future open while keeping him within the federation, but it's not that simple.
"It's not straightforward, in terms of saying because he's not with us he should be with the [U-23s]," Berhalter said. "You have to look at the player's schedule, that's another important thing that comes into play. In playing the U-20 World Cup, then preseason and playing twice a week with Ajax. It's a very intensive schedule he's working with."
The next USMNT squad will be in a month, when they again have Nations League matches in November.
Editor's note: This article originally ran at 2:50 pm ET on October 2, and has been updated to reflect Dest's comments to the media later that day.