December 1, 2022


The key U.S. talking points you may have missed at the World Cup... (Sam Stejskal, 12/01/22, The Athletic)

Entering the World Cup, there were zero doubts about Dest's talent, but there was a question about whether he would play with enough discipline to get the most out of his substantial gifts.

For club and country, Dest has a tendency to freelance. The right-back, on loan at AC Milan from Barcelona, is a skilled attacker but can sometimes become a bit too enamoured with that side of the game, dribbling into trouble or neglecting his defensive responsibilities in a manner that can cost his team.

None of that has shown up in Qatar. Dest has been rock solid defensively, doing a good job of remaining organized and in touch with his fellow defenders and winning key challenges.

"He was unbelievable," goalkeeper Turner said after the win over Iran. "Free flowing, up and down the field. And what I've noticed the most about him is he always seems to show up defensively in big moments. He's tracking runners in the box really, really well."

Dest has also contributed plenty to the attack, teaming up with McKennie and Timothy Weah to control the right side against England before being involved in a few chances on Tuesday.

His most notable involvement came with the goal. Dest made an excellent run in behind the left side of the Iran defense. McKennie played a lovely ball over the top that Dest got on the end of in the area. Instead of heading the ball toward goal, he smartly angled it towards the onrushing Christian Pulisic at the opposite post, allowing the winger to bury the chance from a few yards out for what turned out to be the winner which brought qualification for the knockout phase.

It came through different players but, remarkably, the goal was a carbon copy of one the U.S. scored way back in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

It was a move the U.S. worked on explicitly ahead of the Iran match. They have drilled it repeatedly, drawing Iran to one side of the field, then dropping the ball back to a midfielder who has enough time to pick his head up and hit a diagonal ball to an advancing full-back on the opposite side.

"We talked about it before the game. That exact, exact play was how we were going to score," Ream said. "Credit to Serg, seeing that he could hit the ball back across. And Christian was told before the game. 'Crash that back post'. That's exactly what he did and it happened. Perfect, perfect, perfect setup."

Posted by at December 1, 2022 8:11 AM