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USMNT secures 2024 Copa America berth despite loss to Trinidad

Carmen Mandato/USSF / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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Sergino Dest forced the United States to play a man short following a pair of yellow cards in a dispute with the referee and the Americans qualified for next year’s Copa América despite a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Monday night in Port-of-Spain, winning the total-goals series 4-2.

Following a 3-0 win last week at Austin, Texas, Antonee Robinson scored in the 25th minute off Dest’s cross to give the 11th-ranked U.S. a four-goal series lead in the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal.

Dest got two yellow cards about 30 seconds apart when he lost his composure in the 39th minute and argued with Guatemalan referee Walter López.

With the U.S. a man short, Reon Moore tied the score in the 43rd. Alvin Jones put the 99th-ranked Soca Warriors ahead in the 57th with a 30-yard free kick off the hands of goalkeeper Matt Turner, who tried to parry the swerving shot.

Jones scored a similar long-range goal in October 2017 against Tim Howard in a 2-1 win at Couva, about 20 miles south, that ended the Americans’ streak of World Cup appearances at seven.

The U.S. was in control until Dest, upset an assistant referee ruled he didn’t keep a ball from going out near midfield, punted the ball toward the far end. That earned the first yellow, and the 23-year-old defender then pointed toward Trinidad’s goal, apparently upset with a foul that wasn’t called earlier.

Dest argued with López as Gio Reyna and Tim Ream tried to keep him away, Reyna trying to cover Dest’s mouth. López raised two fingers and showed a second yellow and a red. Ream and Turner screamed at Dest as he walked off the field.

Dest will be suspended for the Nations League semifinal in March. He missed this year’s Nations League final after getting a red card and a three-game ban for scuffling in the semifinal against Mexico.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter brought in right back Joe Scally for Reyna after the ejection to restore a four-man back line. Trinidad tied the score when Jones played a long ball to Moore, who got past defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and beat Turner to the near post.

Robinson scored on a diving header from Dest’s cross, getting by Shannon Gomez and redirecting the ball past goalkeeper Denzil Smith from 10 yards for his fourth international goal and second in two games.

The U.S. finished the year with 11 wins, four losses and three draws, going 4-2 in the start of Berhalter’s second term as coach. The match in largely empty Hasely Crawford Stadium was 34 years and one day after Paul Caligiuri’s goal there lifted the U.S. to a 1-0 win and into its first World Cup in 40 years.

Berhalter inserted midfielder Luca de la Torre and forwards Brenden Aaronson and Ricardo Pepi in place of injured midfielder Weston McKennie and forwards Malik Tillman and Kevin Paredes.


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