The upcoming Copa America in the United States starts a series of major soccer competitions coming to the USA. It is the second time the CONMEBOL tournament is happening outside South America. The other was just eight years ago in 2016, when it was also in the United States. Chile defeated Argentina in the Final, while the USMNT reached the semifinals. While demand is high to see six teams join the 10 from South America, the concept of moving the tournament outside its natural home is not favorable for all.

Sergiño Dest, a starting full-back for the USMNT, said he would rather play in a Copa America in its native land. Speaking to The Athletic, the defender credited that desire to different reasons. For example, the atmosphere, passion and history the tournament has in South America make the tournament stand out.

“I would love to have had it (Copa America) in South America,” Dest said. “The future is the most important in my opinion, over money and everything, so I’m kind of disappointed in some ways that it’s not in one of those nations. That’s where it started and where it should be.”

The United States has played in the Copa America when it was in South America three times. That included stops in Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela. In 1995, when the United States reached the semifinals in Uruguay, the side picked up historic wins against Chile, Argentina and Mexico.

Dest compares Copa America in the USA to other bizarre moves

Missing out on that passion affects the tournament, according to Dest. He understands the facilities the United States has can bring in more money for the confederations. Also, incorporating the CONCACAF teams draws in more viewers.

“It’s like you’re playing the Euros in Africa. It doesn’t make sense to me. But nowadays everything is about the money. I’d love to have seen it in Brazil or Colombia and seen that passion for football. It should be a culture thing; for the fans it is, but for others it’s business, unfortunately.”

The European Championship has always been in Europe, much like AFCON has always been in Africa. In other competitions, such as LaLiga or Serie A, there are rumblings of moving league games to the United States to build on the market. The major concern remains that this takes away from the home atmospheres that add so much to the experience of top-level soccer.

Three summers of soccer in the United States

Dest remains committed to the USMNT despite his desire to play this tournament in South America. He will figure to be a major part of Gregg Berhalter’s squad when the United States starts the tournament in a group with Uruguay, Panama and Bolivia. Then, in the summer of 2026, Dest will want to be in the squad when the United States hosts the World Cup for the second time. Dest started all four games for the United States at the World Cup in 2022, when the United States reached the round of 16.