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US men qualify for Copa América despite loss at Trinidad

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sergiño Dest forced the United States to play short man after 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, who won the series on total goals 4-2.

After a 3-0 win in Austin, Texas last week, Antonee Robinson scored in the 25th minute from a Dest cross to give the 11th-placed USA a four-goal lead in the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals.

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

With the United States short, Reon Moore tied the score in the 43rd. Alvin Jones put the 99th Soca Warriors ahead in the 57th with a 30-yard free kick off the hands of goalkeeper Matt Turner, who tried to keep the swinging shot.

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

The United States was leading until Dest, upset that an assistant referee ruled that he did not keep a ball from going out near the middle of the field, punted the ball towards the back end. That earned the first yellow, and the 23-year-old defender headed towards the Trinidad goal, apparently upset by a foul not called earlier.

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

The destination will be suspended for the Nations League semi-final in March. He missed this year’s Nations League final after receiving a red card and a three-match ban for scuffling in the semi-final against Mexico.

USA coach Gregg Berhalter brought in right-back Joe Scally for Reyna after his dismissal 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 a Dest cross, meeting Shannon Gomez and deflecting the ball past goalkeeper Denzil Smith from 10 yards for his fourth international goal and second in two games.

USA finished the year with 11 wins, four losses and three draws, going 4-2 in the beginning of Berhalter’s second term as coach. The game in the Hasely Crawford Stadium was mostly empty for 34 years and one day after Paul Caligiuri’s goal there the United States rose to a 1-0 victory and into its first World Cup in 40 years.

Berhalter brought in 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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