Sergiño Dest injury complicates USMNT’s final World Cup qualifying push

Barcelona's Sergiño Dest controls the ball during a La Liga match against Alaves in October.
Barcelona’s Sergiño Dest controls the ball during a La Liga match against Alaves in October. It’s unclear if Dest will be able to play in upcoming World Cup qualifying matches.
(Joan Monfort / Associated Press)

The U.S. national team, already missing its best player in midfielder Weston McKennie, may have lost another Thursday when outside back Sergiño Dest sustained an apparent leg injury just a week before the first of three crucial qualifiers that will determine if the Americans return to the World Cup this fall in Qatar.

McKennie broke a foot earlier this month playing for his club team in Italy while Dest limped off the field in the 56th minute of Barcelona’s Europa League win over Galatasaray.

Coach Gregg Berhalter said there is no replacing McKennie.


“He’s been so important to this group that we’re not going to plug a guy in and get a like for like,” he said. “But that’s OK. We’ve won games before without him. And we’ll do it again.”

Fans attending an Atlas at FC Juárez match Friday, among the Liga MX games since a bloody brawl, welcomed enhanced security and calls for peace.

March 13, 2022

LAFC’s Kellyn Acosta along with Luca de la Torre, Brenden Aronson, Gio Reyna and Cristian Roldan were among the players Berhalter said could play in McKennie’s absence.

The coach also has a plan in place should Dest prove to be unavailable.

“It’s not great news. Initial diagnosis it seems to be a hamstring injury,” Berhalter said. “We may need to replace him and we’ve already identified candidates.”

Who, exactly, he’ll call in as a replacement he didn’t say. But it’s not exactly the best way to start the most important two weeks of Berhalter’s stint with the national team.

The U.S., second behind Canada in the eight-team CONCACAF qualifying standings, must finish in the top three to earn an automatic berth in the World Cup, and its three remaining matches are against its three closest pursuers. The Americans will open against Mexico — which trails the U.S. on goal differential — March 24 in Mexico City, before facing fourth-place Panama, four points back of the U.S., in Orlando, Fla., on March 27.

Berhalter’s team then closes qualifying March 30 in Costa Rica. Five points from the three games would guarantee a World Cup berth, meaning the U.S., which has never won a qualifier in Mexico or Costa Rica, can’t afford to lose both.


It’s a grueling schedule of three games in seven days that will make it unlikely anyone will play the full 90 minutes in all three.

Angel City will open the regular-season April 29 against the North Carolina Courage at Banc of California Stadium.

March 16, 2022

“It’s something you can get through,” Berhalter said. “Our job is to put 11 players on the field that can win the game.”

The 27-man roster Berhalter does have available is a young one, averaging 24 years of age and just 12 appearances in competitive matches. It’s one that includes four teenagers, including Reyna, 19, who hasn’t played for the U.S. since injuring a hamstring in the opening qualifier in September in El Salvador.

He proved his fitness in a 21-minute effort Wednesday, setting up the only goal in Dortmund’s Bundesliga win over Mainz.

Also returning are center backs Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath. Long has been out since rupturing an Achilles last May, Palmer-Brown’s last national team camp came in 2018 while Horvath is back for the first time since qualifying began in September.

They will join a core centered around Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic, who has collected three goals and an assist in his last six appearances across all competitions for his club team. He also scored a 2-0 U.S. win over Mexico in Cincinnati in November.


In addition to McKennie and perhaps Dest, Berhalter is also missing goalkeeper Matt Turner of the New England Revolution to injury. Turner hasn’t played for club or country since February’s qualifying win over Honduras in sub-zero temperatures in Minnesota.

Mexico’s Liga MX announces significant sanctions in the aftermath of the bloody riot that occurred at the Atlas versus Querétaro match Saturday.

March 8, 2022

Among those left off the roster is former Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who played in the first four qualifiers, starting twice and scoring a goal, and center back John Brooks.

But Lletget, now with New England, hasn’t played since October’s loss in Panama while Brooks hasn’t been called in since September.

The roster

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Manchester City).

Defenders: Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (Rangers), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Gianluca Busio (Venezia), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)


Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Pefok (Young Boys), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Tim Weah (Lille)