St. Vincent and the Grenadines might be a largely unknown quantity to the US national team and their fans, but there is one person whose name might ring a bell, and he could be a useful resource for the Caribbean country's national team.
Ezra Hendrickson is a former MLS player and current head coach of USL side Seattle Sounders 2, and will be an assistant coach for St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday when the the Carribean nation tries to pull off a massive upset in a 2018 World Cup qualifier against the US at Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri (6:30 pm ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN/UniMás/UDN).
The 43-year-old Hendrickson appeared 123 times for Vincy Heat during his playing days, and also featured for a number of MLS clubs. He played for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, LA Galaxy, Dallas Burn, D.C. United, Chivas USA, and Columbus Crew, winning three MLS Cup titles, three Supporters' Shields and one US Open Cup.
All that experience both at the international and club levels is something he is hoping can help St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday when they attempt to do the unthinkable by starting the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a positive result on the road vs. the heavyweight Americans.
“For me it’s a great opportunity to give back to my country,” Hendrickson told ussoccer.com on Tuesday. “I’m proud to come back with the national team, show them what I’ve learned from my experience and help out as much as I can as an assistant.”
Hendickson knows that St. Vincent and the Grenadines are heavy underdogs, but still believes there is a chance to grab at least a draw. The bulk of the players on the team are 26-years-old or younger, but their experiences at youth international levels are something that Hendrickson thinks they can count on as they continue to dream of a berth to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“There’s no pressure on us, everyone expects the U.S. to win and everyone is looking forward to a US victory," said Hendrickson. "I think we can surprise a lot of people. It all has to do with us and our confidence and execution. We’ve done enough to prepare the guys and it’s just a matter of, on the given day, executing.
“The US and a lot of people are going to be surprised at the product that’s on the field with St. Vincent. We’re not cocky, we’re not over confident, but we believe in ourselves. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do. There’s a reason why the game is played. If we knew the US was going to win, we wouldn’t show up and play – it’s a waste of money. There’s a reason the game is being played and we’re ready for it.”