Americans Abroad

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Dest: Best decision was stay with US and not switch to Dutch

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DAVENPORT, Fla. (AP) Sergino Dest’s decision to stay with the U.S. national team rather than switch to the Netherlands got a mixed reaction from his Ajax teammates.

“Some of them, they didn’t like it,” Dest said. “Some of them, they said just: `Congratulations: You followed your heart. So that’s always good.”

An 18-year-old outside back who has become an Ajax regular this season, Dest made his U.S. national team debut in September and played exhibitions against Mexico and Uruguay. He skipped last month’s CONCACAF Nations League matches against Cuba and Canada in order to keep his options open, then announced Oct. 28 he was committing to the U.S. program long-term.

“It’s a hard decision, of course, because you are for both of them,” Dest said Wednesday, two days before he likely will make his senior national team competitive debut. “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.”

Dest has a Surinamese-American father and Dutch mother. He came up through the U.S. youth national team programs, playing for the Americans at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and the 2019 Under-20 World Cup.

The Dutch national team, winner of the 1988 European Championship and a three-time World Cup finalist, tried to persuade Dest to ask FIFA for a switch of affiliation. Dest’s American youth team background was stressed by U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart when they had lunch with Dest and his father, Ken, on Oct. 24, the day after Dest and Ajax played Chelsea and American star Christian Pulisic in the Champions League.

Dest announced his decision on Oct. 28 and will be cap-tied once he appears in a competitive match.

“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 Tuesday. “What happened in his youth national team career helped the conversations with Sergimo, with his father, with his management in securing him for our U.S. national team, which is great for the program.”

Dest’s decision came 21 months after Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, now 20, switched to Mexico after coming up through the American youth national team program.

LA Galaxy midfielder Efrai­n Ãlvarez, also eligible for the U.S. and Mexico, has made four starts and once substitute appearance for El Tri as it advanced to a Thursday semifinal against the Dutch at the Under-17 World Cup.

Dest said his time with the U.S. program “might be the biggest influence” in his choice.

“I think I made the right decision,” Dest added. “Now I have to make sure that I made a good one and show what I’ve got.”

Stewart, now 50, grew up in the Netherlands with a Dutch mother and a father who was in the U.S. Air Force. He, too, played for a Dutch club and joined the U.S. national team, and played in three World Cups while scoring 17 goals in 101 international appearances from 1990-2004.

“It was very, very similar,” Stewart said, comparing their histories. “His father played an important role, very proud American, ex-military veteran that’s in Europe right now. Very proud that his son is going to play for the U.S. national team as my father was for me.”

Stewart’s experience resonated with Dest.

“It’s always good to hear from people that are also Dutch-American, and they also have a story in the U.S.,” Dest said. “My decision that I made, I listened to everybody’s advice, but it’s just a decision I’m making.”

Dest said his father was pleased, as was his mom.

“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.”

The U.S., rebuilding after its failure to reach last year’s World Cup, hosts Canada on Friday night at Orlando in another Nations League match, then finishes group play against Cuba at George Town, Cayman Islands. To advance to the semifinals, the Americans must win both games and overcome a goal difference of four against Canada.

In a game Dest skipped last month, the U.S. lost 2-0 at Toronto.

“That’s not going to happen the next game on Friday,” Dest said. “We’re not going to lose.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Pulisic absence confirmed for decisive USMNT matches

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USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has confirmed that star midfielder Christian Pulisic will not play in this month’s decisive CONCACAF Nations League matches.

The Yanks need to beat Canada at home on Friday and Cuba in the Cayman Islands four days later to qualify for the first CNL semifinals in the summer.

[ MORE: How USMNT can beat Canada sans Pulisic, Bradley ]

Pulisic injured his hip in Chelsea’s win over Crystal Palace shortly before scoring and subbing out of the contest.

In the USMNT’s initial release, Pulisic’s status was in question. It seems someone very quickly answered that question, presumably Chelsea.

“These decisions are always difficult because this group and the coaching staff want nothing more than to have Christian here, but it was a risk we weren’t willing to take at this time,” Berhalter said.

Not being snarky at all to Berhalter, because this is how he has to speak from the USMNT podium, but it feels unlikely this was an American call (“We just got that information”). Chelsea visits Man City and Valencia in a five-day span after the international break.

The Yanks’ fortunes are much better with him than without him, and the Berhalter era needs some W’s.

Berhalter trims USMNT roster to 23, Pulisic out

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Here we go!

Gregg Berhalter has taken the axe to his training camp roster and announced the 23 men who will hopefully lead the USMNT into the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals.

[ MORE: How USMNT can beat Canada sans Pulisic, Bradley ]

The Yanks need to beat Canada in Orlando on Friday and then Cuba in the Cayman Islands four days later, having lost to the Canucks 2-0 in Toronto and blasted Cuba in Washington, D.C.

Christian Pulisic will miss the match with a hip injury, Berhalter confirmed shortly after the press release.

Doesn’t sound great, to be honest, if only because his name’s not on the list. Why not just name 24? Surely, because there are rules!

The USSF also announced that Michael Bradley suffered an ankle injury playing for Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Final and is unavailable for duty.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s title to lose ]

Berhalter sent Corey Baird and Chase Gasper home, electing to call-up MLS Cup winners Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan.

Here is the full roster, again without Pulisic:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United, Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Forwards: Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Bundesliga wrap: Lewandowski, of course, leads Der Klassiker rout

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The wild and unpredictable Bundesliga season relented to give us another decisive home blowout in Der Klassiker.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Green scores ]

Bayern scored four times to close within a point of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, who hosts Werder Bremen early Sunday.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund

Robert Lewandowski scored twice, joining Serge Gnabry and an ironic Mats Hummels own goal as Bayern claimed the first Der Klassiker of the season with a controlling win at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern has now beaten Dortmund 4-0, 5-0, and 6-0 in the last three league Der Klassikers in Munich.

Lewandowski — who else? — snuck between two defenders (how?!?) to nail an easy header to the board in the 18th minute.

How good has he been this year? Lewandowski has now scored in all 11 of Bayern’s league matches this season, including three braces and a hat trick. He’s also scored in each of Bayern’s four Champions League matches, and has 23 goals in 18 matches.

Bayern was all over the visitors, and could’ve easily had a second and third before the half-hour mark. Gnabry nabbed his goal just after the break.

Schalke 3-3 Fortuna Dusseldorf

Rouwen Hennings scored a hat trick as the visitors thrice rallied to take a point at Schalke.

USMNT midfielders Weston McKennie (Schalke) and Alfredo Morales (Fortuna) each saw yellow in the draw. American backstop Zack Steffen had a rough day between the sticks against the highly-favored hosts.

Elsewhere
Koln 1-2 Hoffenheim — Friday
Mainz 2-3 Union Berlin
Hertha Berlin 2-4 RB Leipzig
Paderborn 0-1 Augsburg
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Werder Bremen — 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Wolfsburg v. Bayer Leverkusen — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Freiburg v. Eintracht Frankfurt — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Mönchengladbach 10 7 1 2 21 10 11 3-1-1 4-0-1 22
 RB Leipzig 11 6 3 2 29 12 17 2-2-1 4-1-1 21
 Bayern Munich 11 6 3 2 29 16 13 4-1-1 2-2-1 21
 1899 Hoffenheim 11 6 2 3 16 14 2 3-0-2 3-2-1 20
 Borussia Dortmund 11 5 4 2 23 15 8 4-1-0 1-3-2 19
 FC Schalke 04 11 5 4 2 20 14 6 2-3-1 3-1-1 19
 SC Freiburg 10 5 3 2 19 12 7 2-2-1 3-1-1 18
 Eintracht Frankfurt 10 5 2 3 21 15 6 4-2-0 1-0-3 17
 VfL Wolfsburg 10 4 5 1 11 8 3 2-3-0 2-2-1 17
 Bayer Leverkusen 10 4 3 3 15 15 0 2-3-1 2-0-2 15
 1. FC Union Berlin 11 4 1 6 13 17 -4 3-0-3 1-1-3 13
 Hertha BSC Berlin 11 3 2 6 17 21 -4 2-0-3 1-2-3 11
 Werder Bremen 10 2 5 3 17 21 -4 1-2-2 1-3-1 11
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 11 3 2 6 15 19 -4 2-1-2 1-1-4 11
 FC Augsburg 11 2 4 5 13 24 -11 1-2-2 1-2-3 10
 FSV Mainz 05 11 3 0 8 12 30 -18 2-0-3 1-0-5 9
 1. FC Köln 11 2 1 8 10 23 -13 1-0-4 1-1-4 7
 SC Paderborn 11 1 1 9 11 26 -15 1-0-5 0-1-4 4