'Some of them didn't like it' - Dest gets mixed Ajax reaction to USMNT commitment
Sergino Dest admits his decision to commit to playing for the United States rather the Netherlands has drawn a mixed reaction from his Ajax teammates.
The 19-year-old has been named in the USMNT squad for this week's Concacaf Nations League qualifiers for the first time since he pledged his allegiance to the country.
Dest was born in the Netherlands to a Surinamese-American father and a Dutch mother, but has only represented the United States at international level.
He made his USMNT debut in September, featuring in friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, but was still able to switch international allegiance as they were not competitive internationals.
However, the talented right-back rejected overtures from the Netherlands last month to commit his future to the United States, clearing the path for him to make his competitive debut against Canada on Friday.
He is currently enjoying a breakout season at Ajax, making 16 appearances for the Dutch giants in all competitions so far, and admits news of his decision got a mixed response from his team-mates.
Some of them, they didn't like it, Dest told Fox Sports. Some of them, they said just: `Congratulations: You followed your heart.' So that's always good.
It's a hard decision, of course, because you are for both of them. I just made my own decision. It's my life. If it's not working out well. I'm the one who is dealing with the trouble.
I think I made the right decision. Now I have to make sure that I made a good one and show what I've got.
U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart is delighted with Dest's decision and feels he will play a key role in the side as they build up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the 2026 tournament, jointly hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico.
He is part of our future and we're going to make sure that he develops himself to a player that will perform in '22 and '26, Stewart said.
What happened in his youth national team career helped the conversations with Sergino, with his father, with his management in securing him for our U.S. national team, which is great for the program.
Like Dest, Stewart grew up in the Netherlands with a Dutch mother and a father who was in the U.S. Air Force.
Dest says speaking to Stewart and sharing his story helped him as he was came to his decision.
It's always good to hear from people that are also Dutch-American, and they also have a story in the U.S., added Dest. My decision that I made, I listened to everybody's advice, but it's just a decision I'm making.
Dest also says his father would have backed him even if he had decided to represent the Netherlands instead.
I think if I go play for the Netherlands, he would also be happy. He's just happy when I'm happy. He's a dad, Dest said.
They're just like, `OK, if you want to make that decision then, it's your life. You have to make your own decisions.