Dest, Pulisic lead America to Round of 16


Zealan Munsey, Photographer

*Author’s Note: This was written before the U.S.’s loss to the Netherlands 3-1 in the Round of 16, but it is still a big achievement to have reached the knockout stages.

Sergiño Dest is currently on loan from FC Barcelona and has been playing for the Serie A (the top Italian league) team A.C. Milan. The reason for his loan from Barca was underperformance, and he was not meeting expectations. Since he is from the Netherlands and has a Surinamese-American father, Dest could choose to represent the U.S.A. or the Dutch on the national level. The full-back seems to have chosen correctly, as he’s played amazingly with the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT). His defense has been stellar and has helped propel America in this World Cup.

Christain Pulisic meanwhile has been a star for quite some time now. From playing in the Bundesliga (the top German league) with Borussia Dortmund to now the Premier League (the top English league) with Chelsea, #10 is an American hero. We’ve been told we don’t enjoy the sport of association football, and they hate it when we call it soccer. Well, Pulisic has shown the States can produce top-notch footballers. Nicknamed Captain America for being the best and most popular American in the soccer world, Pulisic has been a vital part of this World Cup for the U.S., despite this being his first World Cup at the age of 24.

Sure, Pulisic has done average this season with Chelsea. To his credit, injuries will set you back. But without him, we would not have advanced past the group stage and into the tournament; and yes, Dest has been influential as well.

The USMNT drew against Wales in their first group-stage match, 1-1. They went on to draw again but this time against England, 0-0. There were some pretty good attacks in the England match, and it proved we can hang with the best. England rags on us about soccer all the time, yet we tied them in their own game. Come to America; there’s no way you tie us in football, basketball, or baseball.

Finally, with two points and sitting in third in Group B, the Americans faced the second-place Iranians. We had to come out with a win, or we would be eliminated from reaching the tournament, as only the top two in each group advance.

In the 39th minute, Sergiño Dest received a beautiful cross from Weston McKennie, and headered it towards Pulisic, who knocked it in to make the score one to zero.

The USMNT went on to win the match with the same score, advancing the Boys in Blue to the elimination bracket.

With the team not even qualifying for the World Cup four years ago in Russia, this certainly was a major victory for the U.S. and a big feat in our soccer history.

With an assist to Timothy Weah in the first group-stage match against Wales and now a goal against Iran, Pulisic has come up big for his country.

Tyler Adams, the captain for the USMNT and also a player for the Premier League club Leeds United, is a midfielder and has played exceptional defense in this World Cup campaign, thwarting many attacks in all three group-stage matches.

Pulisic suffered an abdominal injury during his goal against Iran, colliding with the Iranian goalkeeper. He is likely to be back for the elimination bracket match against the Netherlands on Saturday. While Pulisic & Co doesn’t have an amazing chance to beat the Dutch, many said England would destroy America, yet we kept them scoreless—so never say never!

Click here for a recap of the group stage.

Starting XI (11) versus the Netherlands:

Christain Pulisic (Forward)
Jesus Ferreira (Forward)
Timothy Weah (Forward)
Weston McKennie (Midfield)
Tyler Adams (Midfield)
Yunus Musah (Midfield)
Antonee Robinson (Defense)
Tim Ream (Defense)
Walker Zimmerman (Defense)
Sergiño Dest (Defense)
Matt Turner (Keeper)