Sergino Dest, 19, has only three
caps for the USA.
He's only played with Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic once -- a 3-0 loss to Mexico in 2019 -- and has never played with Tyler Adams -- who hasn't played for the USA since March 2019 -- or Gio Reyna -- who's never played for the USA above the U-17 level.
But they are the future of the U.S. national team, all playing this fall in the UEFA Champions League for some of Europe's biggest clubs.
Barcelona, Juventus, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig.
Dest signed with Barcelona from Ajax on Oct. 1 and debuted three days later at left back when he replaced injured Jordi Alba in the second half of the 1-1 tie with Sevilla at Camp Nou. With Barca's other returning, Junior Firpo, also injured, Dest is likely to start his first LaLiga game against Getafe on Saturday.
Dest's quick insertion into the Barca lineup followed what happened a year earlier when he took advantage of an injury to Dutch-Moroccan Noussair Mazraoui and won the Ajax starting job at right back.
"I like challenges," Dest said in a media call on Monday. "I will develop at this club because I will see what I have to improve the most. It's a big challenge but that's what motivates me, playing with the best in the world. It's something I really wanted and dreamed about."
Dest said he doesn't feel any pressure on being the first American to play for Barcelona. (Konrad de la Fuente, his teammate on the 2019 U.S. U-20 World Cup team, is the first player to suit up for the Barca first team but is still looking to make his competitive debut.)
"But I don't only want to be the first one," he said, "I want to do something great at this club as well. I will work hard for this. I want to achieve big things in this club."
Dest also wants to achieve big things with the national team and is well aware of the excitement surrounding him and the other young players breaking through across Europe.
"Everybody feels it," Dest said. "I think because we have more players that play for big clubs, that's why everyone is excited that we can really achieve something in the upcoming World Cups. Everyone has to keep motivated and keep hungry because I feel like we can do it. If we just work hard and as a team, everything can be achieved."
Dest is only 19. McKennie and Pulisic are the oldest at 22. Adams is 21, and Reyna won't turn 18 for another month. All will be in the prime of their careers in 2026 when the USA co-hosts the World Cup.
"There's a great possibility that we can do something great at the 2026 World Cup," he added. "We also have a lot of talent in the youth [teams]. Everybody is hungry, everyone wants to achieve something with the U.S. That's a good sign. We all want to win a World Cup, achieve great things, not only personally, but also as a team for the U.S."