Sergino Dest: 'As a small child you dream of this'

Less than two months after playing for the USA at the Under-20 World Cup, Sergino Dest made his debut for Ajax, the Dutch champion, starting in its 2-0 win over PSV to win the Johan Cruijff Schaal, the annual Dutch super cup competition between the league and cup champions.

After a strong training camp, Ajax coach Erik ten Hag did not hesitate to start Dest at left back. The 18-year-old Dutch-American started at right back for the USA at the U-20 World Cup, but he did not miss a beat on the left side, showing off his ability to get forward with his pace and dribbling skills.

Dest almost scored in the second half, hitting the outside the near post with a left-footed shot in the 75th minute.

"I thought it was going well," he told Ajax TV afterward. "There were a few [bad] moments, but those are learning moments. I try to be confident because if you are not, you will do crazy things."
Dest moved to Ajax from his hometown team Almere City when he was 11 and signed his first pro contract last season. He occasionally trained with the first team last season and after finishing up with Jong Ajax, the club's second division team, he got a chance to join the first team on a full-time basis in training camp.

"As a small child, you dream of this," he said of making his first-team debut. "I don't want to get away from the basics yet and try to hold on to this. You also dream of winning prizes and if it works out in your first competition, it will be unforgettable."

There is no guarantee how long Dest will be in the lineup or game-day squad. He still has a lot learn on the defensive end. "He is a great player," analyst Ronald de Boer said on Dutch broadcaster Fox Sports' pregame show, "but often unreliable."

Last summer, Tim Weah, Dest's teammate on the U.S. U-20s, started and scored for Paris St. Germain in the Trophée des Champions, the French super cup, but within a month was out of the first-team 18 and never returned once PSG was at full strength. He was loaned out to Celtic in January and sold to Lille in July.

Ajax's starting left back should be Nicolas Tagliafico, who just returned from vacation following the Copa America, where he played for Argentina. Dest's chances of playing at right back are slim. Joel Veltman started at right back against PSV while Ajax also has Moroccan Noussair Mazraoui and Mexican Edson Alvarez, an offseason signing from Club America.

In the big picture, Dest is just one of a dozen or so new faces in the first team. Like Dest, 19-year-old Perr Schuurs started on the backline against PSV, and they join other teenagers like Ryan Gravenberch and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, who are trying to make the jump from Jong Ajax or Ajax O19, its U-19 team, to the first team.

Ajax has lost only two starters -- Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus -- but the combined transfer haul of almost $170 million gave it plenty of money to dabble on the transfer market.

Romanian Razvan Marin, Argentine Lisandro Martinez and Dutchman Quincy Promes, all offseason acquisitions, started on Saturday against PSV. The other offseason acquisitions were 19-year-old defender Kik Pierie, who was born in Boston, where his father was attending medical school, and Alvarez.
23 comments about "Sergino Dest: 'As a small child you dream of this'".
  1. frank schoon, July 28, 2019 at 2:08 a.m.

    I find it always refreshing to hear Dutch opinions given on soccer matters. The Dutch are very frank, open and can be very critical in their opinions and never try to be circumspect. They see and call a spade a spade and are therefore inclined to solve a problem much quicker. Frank de Boer’s statement on Dest as being “unreliable” is a case in point. Where has anyone read anywhere any critical opinions by American soccer journalists or American coaches, announcers or commentators about Dest or any players.
    This is what I find to be our problem in our American soccer development. One, we don’t like to express any criticisms for that is negative and of course not PC as well. Two, by  not expressing or having any healthy  criticism ,as a result we  don’t allow  deeper discussions  about soccer on the Why’s and How’s of the game and as result coaches, fans , spectators in America never learn the deeper insightful aspect of the game.
    Dutch journalist would right away ask de Boer and allow him to enumerate factors on why he considers  Dest “unreliable”. By doing so the fans ,coaches, would gain more insight about the game and learn what to look for from someone who has played at the highest level, has done it all and has learned from Johan Cruyff, himself.
    But, instead , the American fan, coaches , players get and learn nothing about the game on the America side of things, other than mush , superficial garbage from commentators and coaches and journalist alike, for whenever I read something on or about soccer I expect to learn something which is not the case when it involves an American soccer journalist , coach or player....
    Pick up any American publication, listen to an interview by any coach like an Ellis who says absolutely nothing but generalities. Where has anyone  read an interview giving by Zlatan and let him express,explain what he sees the weaknesses to be of American players and what should be done about it  or has any  American journalist requested a deep interview with Frank de Boer and let him explain and criticize and what he sees needs to be improved in the American game. I believe most if not all American soccer journalist lack the deeper soccer intelligence to even ask questions like that....

  2. Carlo Palazzese replied, July 28, 2019 at 8:32 a.m.

    Frank - I see your point. Although the complete quote of Dest was “He is a great player but often unreliable”.

    So should we not celebrate the 18 yr old’s greatness or should we only focus on the unreliability of an 18 yr old boy. As a father and youth coach I think we should celebrate and find the joy in seeing a young man fulfill his dreams and value the goodness and love that fútbol can bring to Dest life and how is sharing it with all of us. 

    It’s not just fútbol announcers, it’s all reporters in all sports that focus on the dazzle, the exciting, the new like the American football wide receiver Odell Beckham or baseball Bryce Harper. 

    I hear and read plenty of criticism and good analysis on RAI, ESPN FC and SiriusXM FC radio as well as Telemundo and Univision. All USA based  communication outlets. I believe your comment to be critical of the American development “deeper insightful aspect of the game” short sighted.

    As an American, son of Italian and Colombian parents, I feel very confident in my knowledge and ability to view our game critically. Not all Americans are Northern European, northeast based novice viewers and you should review USA population demographics before generalizing the quality or depth of all “American side of things”. You use words like all, anyone, anywhere - as if everyone in the USA was at the same level of knowledge. 

    I saw this highlight and the first part of de Boer’s quote as a moment of joy, as a celebration of life and love of our game. It appears to me you saw the second part of the quote as an opportunity to criticize American soccer community, reporters, fans, etc.... 

    Let’s criticize, comment and celebrate both sides completely and together! 

  3. frank schoon replied, July 28, 2019 at 9:32 a.m.

    Carlo, to say he’s a great player is a little patronizing. Being Dutch myself, I know  what de Boer meant is that he’s a great talent. Ajax has lots of great young talent, but many  don’t last on the road of becoming a great player. That is the difference between being a great talent or rather a talented player and being a great player which he certainly isn’t. I mean , how can you even be considered being a great player and be called unreliable in the same sentence.
    i haven’t watch Ajax tv  yet which is in Dutch so I would like to see How de Boer’s translation was interpreted in English, for their is no way this kid is considered a Great player. 
    This kid hasn’t even done anything , hopefully he might even get a chance to start. We HAVE to focus on his unreliability and not celebrate his talent (for that is why he’s at Ajax in the first place) is really meaningless for the former will only hold him back in becoming a great player. The Dutch see the glass always as half empty , not half full and therfore looks critically at players.  
    Marco van Basten ,former European player of the year and World star was already a great talented youth player, of which Dest couldn’t wear even  his jock, when he began to play for the Ajax first team, he often would come home crying after practice. Even though he was a great young talented player, he was shown by Johan Cruyff  how little he knew about the game, what he all did he wrong and it was further emphasized by the older veterans, as well.  This is why the Dutch produce such great players because they view the glass as half empty meaning ,it is never good enough you have to do better and the only way to improve is to be critical to get rid of the negative aspects.
    Talking about all the good things a player does should be self-evident to him anyway and time wasting for a player for needs to learn the negative side of his game  and eliminate that aspect will only improve the player’s development.
    As one parent actually complained to Cruyff why he picks on his son incessantly, Cruyff answered that the parent better start worrying if he doesn’t pick on his son for that means the kid is not good enough for Cruyff to waste his time on him.

  4. frank schoon replied, July 28, 2019 at 10:04 a.m.

    Carlo, you and I certainly think very differently on what is called deeply insightful aspects of the game as brought by the soccer journalists ,commentators , and what not. I find it deplorable , and juvenile at best. Fortunately being Dutch, i’ve been brought up in the Cruyff school of thinking about soccer and how to look at soccer and the game itself. I would have liked to seen Cruyff and some of his cohorts , like Wim Jansen, Van Hanegem to be color commentators at an American game than you will begin to see how bad these empty headed parrots we have here in trying  to explain soccer’s a world of difference.
    As a matter of fact, I  find the English soccer press just as bad as the American press, perhaps shade better when it comes to soccer, likewise the Belgians and Germans as well. I’ve learned this aspect over 40years ago. And now i’m Beginning to see a reduction in the expression of deep soccer knowledge in Dutch soccer press but definitely not with Dutch soccer commentators which is still excellent and critical. 
    Furthermore , I have no idea why you bring up demographics for that has nothing to do with with my opinion on soccer commentators on national television. 

  5. don Lamb replied, July 28, 2019 at 8:48 p.m.

    Frank - American fans and analysts (most notably, Matt Doyle) have lambasted Dest in the past. Even after he recovered from two shaky moments against Ukraine to have a stellar U20 World Cup, he still had plenty of detractors. You seem to rely on your own stereotypes of a lot of things in and around the game to make long winded assumptions, but they are often inaccurate.

  6. Carl Neff, July 28, 2019 at 7:36 a.m.

    agree that announcers are soft - what was meant by "unreliable"?  Is he prone to making sudden inexplicable defensive gaffes?    

    The good new for him is he played 90 yesterday, and managed to hit the post.  There first regular season game is next weekend - let see if he makes the squad and gets some minutes.

  7. Seth Vieux replied, July 30, 2019 at 6:14 p.m.

    Looked like he was very dangerous in the attack from the highlights provided, and as they won 3-1 and the goal against them wasn't shown I'll ssume it wasn't due to a mistake by Dest? That said the most glaring mistake in the highlights was Dest hitting the post, as he clearly should have played a simple ball across the goal for a tap in rather than trying to beat the keeper to the near post after impressively beating the back and forcing the keeper to completely collapse on the near post....leaving the simple assist for a tap in open.

  8. ARISTIDES SASTRE, July 28, 2019 at 8:59 a.m.

    Excellent assessment Carlo.  You could not have put it better.

  9. Robert Rizzuto, July 28, 2019 at 11:10 a.m.

    Frank, if you want to read critical, unfiltered technical analysis of the US MNT and its players you should visit the Stars & Stripes FC website. Both the articles and the posts from readers are excellent, and no one holds back on the critical side of the analysis.

  10. frank schoon replied, July 29, 2019 at 2:21 p.m.

    Robert , thanks for the info...i’m Aware of the website and of course you always find criticisms, even in SA posts you can find them. But my complained is that there is a lack good deep , in-depth analysis that I’m used to seeing in the Dutch culture of soccer that we simply miss...

  11. Donald Lee, July 28, 2019 at 12:20 p.m.

    Yes, American soccer commentary is generally very poor.

    What a surprise. Dutch people think only Dutch know football.

    Then Dutch guy explains how superior Dutch way is -- despite the Dutch being the greatest underachievers in world football.   

    Certainly -- Dest has potential but is also unrealiable. Just like every other 18yo at good club anywhere in the world.  

  12. Seth Vieux replied, July 30, 2019 at 6:15 p.m.

    100% on all points

  13. Bob Ashpole, July 28, 2019 at 2:41 p.m.

    Basic coaching pyschology. Telling someone how great they are is a sure way to hold them back from development. Praise effort instead.

  14. Ginger Peeler, July 28, 2019 at 8:27 p.m.

    "He is a great player," analyst Ronald de Boer said on Dutch broadcaster Fox Sports' pregame show, "but often unreliable." 
    That’s the EXACT quote from the article. Please note that it was Ronald de Boer, an assistant manager for AJAX 1 (one), NOT Frank de Boer, the MLS coach as Frank S alluded to in his rebuttal. 

    To put it in perspective:  Dutch soccer consists of 2 professional teams, 1 semi-professional team and a bunch of amateur teams divided into tiers. 
    The Premier Division/top tier professional teams play in the EREDIVISIE  consisting of the chosen first team players. 
    The First Division/second tier consists of the Reserve Team, including Ajax II (2) in the EERSTE DIVISIE.
    The Second Division/third tier consists of youth teams at their highest level and Ajax 1 (one) playing in the TWEEDE DIVISIE.

     Ronald de Boer is an assistant manager for AJAX 1. 

    His comments, as an analyst, were made on Fox Soccer Netherlands, which is owned by Eredivisie Media and Marketing. Their coverage is broadcast to the Netherlands. I think I’m safe in assuming the Fox telecasts in the Netherlands are already in the Dutch language. So, apparently, the Dutch analysts don’t always jump in with 20 questions as Frank assured us. 

    Frank, if you’re going to editorialize on all things relating to soccer in the USA, at least get your facts straight before you mislead a lot of people. Read the articles several times to make sure you’ve got the facts, as expressed. Don’t cherrypick what you want to address while ignoring information you prefer to avoid.  That’s basically dishonest and I believe you really do mean well. 

  15. don Lamb replied, July 28, 2019 at 8:51 p.m.

    Appreciate the straightening of the record, Ginger.

  16. Peter Bechtold replied, July 28, 2019 at 9:12 p.m.

    Hi Frank S., Greetings. Even though we have never met, I feel that I know you. I also guess that we are of similar age and have comparable experiences in football and nationalities. Before I carry on, let me quickly introduce myself: I started playing organized youth soccer in a West European amateur club in 1949, and later played and coached soccer/football on 3 different continents. (I have watched games in person on a fourth).My first world cup final I watched on tv from Switzerland in '54 when West Germany came from behind to defeat favored Hungary. I have never stopped playing/coaching and watching the game,as have many readers here.
    Now back to my opening comment. Frank, I read your postings regularly and you have a lot of good points. But I am afraid that you overstate your cases(out of frustration, perhaps), and you come across as being endlessly critical of whoever is less than Johann Cruyff. (He played in the NASL in my then home town and i appreciate his artistry). but there are many ways to play the game, not only in different parts of Europe but also South America, Africa,etc. (I coached 2 major league teams there). I think that we all should honor the different styles and learn from them.
    I do agree that US American culture can be very superficial and that the US born announcers & commentators can be hopeless "homers". I also agree that criticism is necessary if we want to improve in soccer and in life. But it depends on how it is done. If you continue to preach the gospel of Dutch football according to Cruyff ,and don't respect other methods, then you may lose the attention of many readers, as the comments here suggest. That would be sad.

  17. frank schoon replied, July 29, 2019 at 10:10 a.m.

     .Hi, Peter, I understand where you’re coming from.Yes, we’re are from the 40’s generation. It is not that I disrespect other methods, for after all their are many roads that lead to Rome, the Germans, Italians, Brazilians all are good examples of countries taking different roads that lead to successes and each culture has made contributions to soccer. For example the Hungarians of the 50’s were the most exciting team to watch and they were the first to use #9 in leaving his position and they introduced  other tactical variations, which Rinus Michels employed in the “total soccer” concept. I tend use the Rinus Michels/ Cruyff soccer philosophy for if you if look at the past 50 years the Dutch Soccer philosophy had  the most  influence in the world of soccer. For example, the Argentinia that won WC ‘78 based their style on Holland’s style, Rinus Michel’s Physical and athletic training produced tempo training, less emphasis on technique and individualism and more team building which has all become standards in training methods world wide. Cruyff when he became coach brought back the 4-3-3 system ,which again is in current use today ,with Ajax, Barcelona’s “Dream Team”; it is continued by Guardiola’s at Barcelona, and at Bayern Munchen, which also later produced the German National team’s success and not to mention German soccer Bund decided to play the Dutch style beginning in the 2000’s resulting in  following Dutch training methods, for the Germans thought their was out dated and needed a new impetus. Maurinho, was an assistant to van Gaal at Barcelona and a learned a lot from the Dutch way of training. Van Gaal likewise introduced Dutch concepts to Bayern Munchen, before Guardiola. Barcelona, in the past decade excited the world with their style of soccer, based on Dutch/Cruyff philosophy of soccer as introduced by Guardiola. It later effected the Brazilians after they got their clocks by the Germans 7-1 WC ‘14. AC Milan under Arrigo Sacci studied Ajax when Cruyff coached and followed the Dutch concepts which led to AC Milan many successes. Of course there is more but to sum it up there is a reason why Rinus Michels was honored as coach of the 20 th century and Cruyff European player of the 20th century, these two combined have had such a great influence in the past 50 years in the world of soccer coaching and playing wise. NEXT POST

  18. frank schoon replied, July 29, 2019 at 2:13 p.m.

    Peter, as usual Bob did a good job in explaining certain things that i’m not as good at. We agree on the weak soccer commentating. I don’t really care if the announcers are hopeless “homers” as long as they have the ability to discuss deeper insights as compared to superficiality that’s currentlygiven. I find that the American soccer culture lacks detailed analysis, which is one of the most important aspects in educating the soccer fan, coach and players. I mentioned having Cruyff , Wim Jansen or Van Hanegem, to do a soccer broadcast in America, but it could just as well be Paul Breitner or a Beckenbauer or a Hoenness for they will be very critical too.
    We need to have a more critical culture in looking at soccer for that will not only  improve things ,but also open things more to discussion. 
    For example, look at Tata who was here for two years , why hasn’t there been a great interview about his ideas on soccer as related to the American scene, what are his believes developing players, etc,etc . Or take Zlatan, why hasn’t there been a deep interview,about how to teach tactics to young players, or how did he learn soccer as a kid
    ,did he play pick up, how much, or what are views on American soccer players in the MLS and what should improve, etc.  This is his second year in the MLS and the only thing we ever hear of Zlatan is certain so-called fouls or ref problems.  Frank de Boer item ditto...I expect SA do interviews like that but instead we get repeated interviews with Anson Dorrance, Ramos or some hard working coach. 
    There’s a real lack of soccer info with real depth and insight in soccer discussions and mostly superficial. 

  19. Seth Vieux replied, July 30, 2019 at 6:20 p.m.

    Thank you Peter; perfectly said, and I appreciate you stating your impressive resume in our sport as surely similar comments made by someone of my modest, though life long, experience would be ignored.

  20. Ginger Peeler, July 28, 2019 at 11:34 p.m.

    Whoops!!! Full disclosure!!  I meant to point out that Ronald de Boer is the older twin brother of Frank de Boer. 

  21. Ric Fonseca replied, July 29, 2019 at 10:45 p.m.

    I see in Frank Schoon the beginnings of a pretty darned good soccer historian and even perhaps a soccer and maybe even Paul Kennedy or Mike Woitalla ought to offer Mr. Schoon the opportunity to write a column or two.  Furthermore, his apparent vast knowledge of Dutch football is worthy of some university anywhere in the world, that offers a major field of study of woccer, to give him the opportunity to put "pen to paper" and write a senior paper, master's thesis or even a doctoral dissertation on a specific period on the development of Dutch football, and I betcha that there are several hundred if not thousands of soccer-history buffs that would throughly enjoy reading it, especially the professors that would sit on his graduate masters or doctoral committee.  Anyhow, just a thought from a now retired professor of history, and soccer-junkie. 

  22. Bob Ashpole, July 29, 2019 at 12:57 p.m.

    This discussion is making a mountain out of a molehill. So Frank mispoke and said Frank instead of Ronald. 

    Nationality has nothing to do with soccer. This discussion is not about Holland. We are talking about exceptions.

    Ajax is not a typical Dutch club. Cryuff and total soccer are not even typical of Ajax much less Dutch soccer. Barca is not a typical Spanish Club. Bayern is not a typical German club. Manchester City is not a typical English club. 

    We cannot intelligently discuss progress in the sport after 1970 without mentioning Cryuff and Holland. Just as we cannot intelligently discuss it before then without mentioning Pele and Brazil. In their times they were the cutting edge of progress in the sport. Exceptions, not ordinary.

    I talk about Dutch Style Principles because nobody would have a clue what I meant if I said general principles of good (i.e., attacking, I don't have the patience or personality to enjoy catenaccio) soccer. I don't care what language people speak. Soccer is a language of its own, and I know good soccer when I see it. I believe that good soccer is found everywhere. Communications and mobility have speard knowledge everywhere.

    So lets get past this nationalism which is sidetracking us from discussion soccer.  

  23. Ric Fonseca replied, July 29, 2019 at 10:48 p.m.

    Amen soccer brother!

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