Sergino Dest's rapid promotion comes as surprise even to him

Even Sergino Dest is surprised by how quickly he has settled into the Ajax rotation.

After making its UEFA Champions League debut off the bench in a tense 3-2 win over Greece's PAOK on Tuesday, the 18-year-old Dutch-American earned his first Eredivisie start on Saturday, going the distance in an easy 4-1 win at tiny VVV Venlo.

Dest's first start of the season, in the Johan Cruijff Schaal curtain-raiser against PSV, was at left back, but he is back playing on the right side, where he played for the USA this spring at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup.

"I decided to seize every opportunity I get," Dest said after Saturday's game in remarks to the Dutch news agency ANP. "Last year I played on the under-19 team. And now I have already had more chances than I expected. On Tuesday against PAOK, I was allowed to come in and you notice that the level in the Champions League is a lot higher than in the Eredivisie."

Against VVV, Ajax coach Erik ten Hag started Dest over Joel Veltman, who has played in 160 league games for Ajax and has 19 caps for the Netherlands, and in place of Dutch-born Moroccan international Noussair Mazraoui, who exited the PAOK game at the half with a knee injury.

"He is there to defend," said ten Hag, "but we also need backs who can attack. Dest is such a wing back."

Indeed, Dest spent most of the game camped in the VVV final third and completed 41 of 45 passes.

Dest was born in Almere to an American father and Dutch mother and joined Ajax when he was 11. Almost three years ago, weeks before his 16th birthday, he joined the U.S. youth program after being discovered by Dutch coach David Van den Bergh, who was then a U.S. staff coach.

Dest played for the USA at the 2015 U-17 World Cup and 2017 U-20 World Cup but is not yet cap-tied to the USA. The first opportunity to play in an official match at the senior level will come in October when the USA faces Cuba and Canada in the Concacaf Nations League.

He left open the possibility of making a switch of association to play for the resurgent Netherlands, which finished second in the 2019 UEFA Nations League.

"If it comes to the point that I can choose," Dest told ANP on Saturday. "I will certainly think about the Oranje."

3 comments about "Sergino Dest's rapid promotion comes as surprise even to him".
  1. R2 Dad, August 19, 2019 at 5:18 a.m.

    UEFA oe CONCACAF? Well, that was easy....

  2. Wooden Ships replied, August 19, 2019 at 7:40 p.m.

    R2, I’ve looked at your post 3 times throughout the day and still I’ve got nothing. We should be considering him a top priority. Offer a Cap this year, he’s already more complete than any outside back we have. If not Holland will likely take him. R2, CONCACAF has some excellent blue water and beaches. 

  3. R2 Dad replied, August 19, 2019 at 11:48 p.m.

    Sorry, Ships, he’a not an MLS player—GB has no room in the side. Besides, the only approved outside backs that can get forward are Adams and Lima. USSF will dawdle until he’s capped by the Dutch, then claim he wasn’t desperate to wear the Stars and Stripes. SOP USSF.

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