Friday, November 25, 2022 at 11:59 am• Mart Oude Nijeweeme • Last update: 12:06

Sergiño Dest started the World Cup with the United States somewhat disappointingly with a draw against Wales (1-1). For a long time, the Americans seemed to be on the hunt for victory, until Gareth Bale threw a spanner in the works with a striking penalty kick in the final phase. Dest, who had the opportunity to opt for the the Dutch in the past, hopes to match the best World Cup performance ever with the United States. Twenty years ago, the country reached the quarterfinals in Japan and South Korea. “I think it can.”

The United States is placed in a group with Wales, Iran and England during the World Cup. Partly due to the monster score against Iran (6-2), Gareth Southgate’s team has the best papers to push through as group head. The fight for second place is all the more interesting. Dest gives America a good chance to reach the knockout stages. “A World Cup is very tough and the opponents are strong. We have to look at it round by round, but if we quickly get a good flow, then matching or surpassing that performance (from 2002, ed.) is certainly possible. ”

Three years ago, Dest had the opportunity to link his international career to the Netherlands. The AC Milan defender spoke extensively with Ronald Koeman, but chose the country of his Surinamese-American father. “I’m still happy with that choice,” said Dest, who was wearing the Ajax shirt at the time of the decision. “It was a choice based on both feeling and reason. And that is still the same. Playing for the USA always feels good. The first, big goal was qualification for the World Cup in 2022. We succeeded. So I can say that my expectations came true, yes.”

In America, the current crop is considered the ‘golden generation’ with players such as Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna and Weston McKennie. “We certainly have some pretty talented and good players who play at a high level in Europe,” said Dest, “but golden generation? Then we have to achieve results that earn us that stamp. So we have to leave that for the next few years and starting at the World Cup. Football is becoming more popular in the US every year. More and more youngsters are playing it and even when we play international matches in our own country, we notice that the sport is becoming more and more alive.”

the Dutch
The Dutch national team also follows Dest with above-average interest. The wing defender, who plays the second group match against England on Friday evening at 8 p.m., knows many current the Dutch internationals from his time at Ajax. “I still have contact with many of them. That is also why I wish them the best. Unless they play against us, of course. If you look at the selection, the Netherlands certainly has a chance to go far. There are only so many strong teams that it is difficult to predict. For us, an equalization of the performance of 2002 would be very nice. I also think it is possible.”