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Why USMNT’s Sergino Dest will be so difficult to replace Gregg Berhalter after his knee injury at PSV



Why USMNT's Sergino Dest will be so difficult to replace Gregg Berhalter after his knee injury at PSV

Less than two months before the Copa America kicks off in the United States, Gregg Berhalter has been handed a potential selection problem as right back for the United States men’s national team. Sergino Dest suffered a knee injury at PSV that could put his participation in the tournament in doubt. While there is no definitive timetable on how long the injury will sideline Dest, according to The Athletic, it could keep him out for nine months. This not only causes problems in the Copa America, but also with PSV’s loan of Dest Barcelona a permanent move, leaving his future up in the air.

Dest is not only the undisputed starter at right back, but he is also the primary backup for Antonee Robinson at left back. In 33 appearances for the national team, the team has a record of 18-8-7 when Dest starts with three of those losses at left back. With the USMNT suffering four losses during Dest’s career in non-January Camp matches in which he did not appear, his importance to the squad is quite clear. Dest’s skillset can leave teams overloaded and as he has gained more experience over his career, Dest has also become less of a defensive liability.

You don’t have to look further than the Concacaf Nations League semi-finals, where Dest was suspended, to see his importance. Joe Scally started the match and was out of his depth, he was beaten for Jamaica’s opening goal and the match ended with Weston McKennie play immediately back to push the tempo forward. If Dest can’t go, we looked at the options to replace itbut to say they are missing would be an understatement.

Chris Richards, who should be the starting center at the Copa America and is perhaps the best option, says everything you need to know about the player pool. Although Richards has been a strong player for Palace this season, moving him will not only require Berhalter to reshuffle his backline, but also his playing style. Richards is a more conservative passer and keeper, who helps keep clean sheets against top teams, but not when it comes to actually attacking against them.

Tim Weah may have played right full-back for both Lille And Juventus, but it’s a completely different world playing as a full-back in a back five than as a right-back in a back four. The defensive commitments are higher and if Berhalter were to move Weah from winger to right-back while slotting someone like Gio Reyna in front of him as a winger, he would be asking teams to target his right flank all day. As Jesse Marsch put it succinctly in the latest episode of CBS Sports Golazo Network calls it whatever you want, “He doesn’t look comfortable there.” A shift to the back three may be necessary to accommodate Weah in a more natural position, but that also poses problems as a midfielder would have to be dropped.

For more from Marsch, Charlie Davies and Jimmy Conrad, don’t miss Call It What You Want, the CBS Sports Golazo Network’s one-stop shop for all things USMNT. Catch it Monday on the streaming channel or anytime in your podcast feeds.

Of Tyler Adams back from injury — kind of — the midfield is full of him, Yunus Musahand McKennie. Even if Adams can’t start a game, Johnny Cardoso and Reyna would then come knocking for central positions. The midfield has been one of the USMNT’s strengths, so disrupting that midfield would be more trouble than it’s worth. Looking at other right-back options, Scally has shown that he should be a back-up unless he shows rapid improvement before the summer. DeAndre Yedlin is useful, but probably not enough to beat teams like this Brazil, Sjaak Moore is injured, DeJuan Jones could be an option Nathan Harriel was impressive for the Union but he would be better served from the Olympics onwards rather than sitting on the bench at the Copa America.

Berhalter will have tune-up matches against Colombia and Brazil before the start of the group stage against Bolivia, but there is no denying that the lack of depth in defense is worrying. When the goal is to reach the knockout round and win at least one match, you always want to have your best options, but Dest’s injury will really cripple both the USMNT’s depth and Berhalter’s tactical shuffles to progress put to the test.