"He took a negative event and turned it positive," said Berhalter at training on Monday. "It gave him motivation to go back to Werder Bremen
and really work for an opportunity. There's nothing better than when players take advantage of that, and he did. And the season has been much of the same. He's hung in there and kept battling. And he
was rewarded with a really nice goal and a win over the weekend."
Sargent had been knocking on the first-team door at Werder Bremen for a year. Dest's move into the starting lineup at Ajax, the defending Dutch champion and 2019 UEFA Champions League semifinalist, came out of nowhere.
Dest, 18, started for the USA at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup after spending the 2018-19 season with Ajax O19 and Jong Ajax, its U-19 and reserve team. Less than a year after signing his first pro contract, he was expected to get a look on the first team in preseason but expected to be nothing more than a reserve in the Amsterdam club's deep squad.
Dest got his shots, first at left back in the Dutch version of the Super Cup against PSV -- Argentine Nicolas Tagliafico was just returning from vacation following the Copa America -- and then at right back -- Dutch-born Moroccan Noussair Mazraoui was red carded in the first leg of the Champions League playoff against APOEL.
With millions of dollars in Champions League payments and bonuses and ticket revenues on the line, Dest got the start in the second leg and helped set up the second goal in the 2-0 win that sent Ajax to the group stage, where it will face Chelsea, Valencia and Lille. And on Sunday, Dest was still at right back, ahead of Mazraoui, when Ajax beat Sparta Rotterdam, 4-1, for its third straight Eredivisie win.
Dest's rise is a story Berhalter says happens all the time in soccer. You just never know who it will be or when.
"Everyone has their own progress," Berhalter said. "The speed at which they continue to progress is unpredictable. For him, he got an opportunity, he seized the opportunity, and now he's a starter for Ajax, semifinalist in the Champions League. It happens all the time. You see a guy get an opportunity, take advantage of the opportunity and go [straight up]. You can never tell who is going to happen to or when it's going to happen. Sergino is in a good moment right now. We want to capitalize on that."
Injury Report: Berhalter hoped to see another teenager getting off to a strong start in Europe. He said Tim Weah would have been called into camp but for an injury sustained at the end of training 10 days ago at French club Lille. Weah, 19, was acquired by Lille from Paris St. Germain in July and started the season opener in Ligue 1 and came on as a sub in Lille's second game.
“Weah has a very bad hamstring tear,” Berhalter said. “He’s getting rehab on that now. We would’ve given him a look in this camp. He’s playing for Lille, doing a good job."
Three other European-based players are out with injuries: Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga and DeAndre Yedlin.
“Miazga has the same thing [as Weah but] not as severe,” Berhalter said. “Adams is getting back in, Yedlin is getting back into training. So four players that would normally be at least looking to be involved.”