Sergiño Dest forced the United States to play a man short following a pair of yellow cards in a dispute with the referee and the Americans qualified for next year’s Copa América despite a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Monday night in Port-of-Spain, winning the two-legged tie 4-2 on aggregate.
After a 3-0 win last week in Texas, Antonee Robinson scored in the 25th minute from Dest’s cross to give the US a four-goal aggregate lead in the Concacaf Nations League quarter-final.
Dest got two yellow cards 30 seconds apart when he lost his composure in the 39th minute and argued with Guatemalan referee Walter López.
With the US a man short, Reon Moore equalized in the 43rd minute. Alvin Jones put Soca Warriors, who are 99th in the Fifa rankings, 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 of Monday’s venue, that ended the Americans’ streak of World Cup appearances at seven.
The US were in control on Monday until Dest, about when a throw-in was awarded against the US, punted the ball awat. That earned the first yellow, and the 23-year-old then pointed toward Trinidad’s goal, apparently upset with a foul that wasn’t called earlier.
Dest argued with López as Gio Reyna and Tim Ream tried to keep him away from the referee. López 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 want to represent,” the US coach, Gregg Berhalter, said. “That’s not who we are as a group. 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.”
Dest will be suspended for the Nations League semi-final in March. He missed this year’s Nations League final after getting a red card and a three-game ban for scuffling in the semi-final against Mexico.
Berhalter brought in right-back Joe Scally for Reyna after the red card to restore a four-man back line.
“He apologized to the group, he said it’s not going to happen again,” Berhalter said. “As a team, the players, the staff, we need to hold him accountable because it’s inexcusable. It really is. And we were very firm with our words after the game. He put a number of guys in jeopardy, made a number of guys do a lot of extra work in this weather, and it’s inexcusable.”
The US finished the year with 11 wins, four losses and three draws, going 4-2 in the start of Berhalter’s second spell as coach. The match in a largely empty Hasely Crawford Stadium was 34 years and one day after Paul Caligiuri’s goal there lifted the US to a 1-0 win and into their first World Cup in 40 years.