USA qualify for Copa América despite losing in Trinidad
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP):
Sergino Dest lost his composure in a needless dispute with the referee, getting a pair of yellow cards for dissent in a 30-second span that endangered the United States of America's (USA) berth in next year's Copa America.
Trinidad won 2-1 last night night in Port-of-Spain, overcoming a deficit by scoring twice after Dest's 39th-minute ejection left the USA a man short, The Americans held on to win the total-goals series 4-2 and earn spots in the 16-nation Copa America and the Concacaf Nations League semi-finals.
USA captain Tim Ream revealed there were "choice words" for Dest at half-time.
"Not too many things I can say here publicly that we said privately," Ream said. "It's a complete lack of respect for guys on the bench, on the field."
Following a 3-0 win last week at Austin, Texas, Antonee Robinson scored in the 25th minute off Dest's cross to give the 11th-ranked USA a four-goal series lead in the Nations League quarter-final.
Reon Moore tied the score in the 43rd off a long ball from Alvin Jones, getting past defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and beating Turner to the near post. Jones put the 99th-ranked Soca Warriors ahead in the 57th with a 30-yard free kick off the hands of goalkeeper Matt Turner, who tried to parry the swerving shot.
Jones scored a similar long-range goal in October 2017 against Tim Howard in a 2-1 win at Couva, about 20 miles south, that ended the Americans' streak of World Cup appearances at seven.
The USA were in control until Dest, upset an assistant referee ruled he didn't keep a ball from going out near midfield, punted the ball away toward the far end. That earned the first yellow from Guatemalan referee Walter Lopez, and the 23-year-old defender then pointed toward where no foul was called moments earlier when Andre Rampersad pushed him over.
"It's inexcusable," USA coach Gregg Berhalter said. "It was surreal."
Dest argued with Lopez as Gio Reyna and Ream tried to keep him away, Reyna trying to cover Dest's mouth. Lopez raised two fingers and showed a second yellow and a red. Ream and Turner screamed at Dest as he walked off the field.
"It is concerning because that's not what we represent, that's not who we are as a group," Berhalter said. "We pride ourselves in staying mentally disciplined, battling through any type of conditions.
"Whether they're good decisions or bad decisions, we're supposed to keep going and respond in an appropriate way, and that obviously wasn't the right response from Sergino. He apologised to the group. He said it's not going to happen again. As a team, the players, the staff, we need to hold him accountable."