TORONTO – It would be an understatement to say it’s been a whirlwind two years for Kyle Hiebert.
Yet on Tuesday evening, the St. Louis CITY SC center back made his Canadian men’s national team debut during a 4-1 rout of Honduras at Toronto FC’s BMO Field, clinching their spot in this summer’s Concacaf Nations League semifinals.
Although he looked unnerved at times after entering the match just after the hour mark, the 25-year-old Manitoba native settled into the game and showed he could rise to the level of Les Rouges.
Playing with his family and friends looking on, Hiebert’s mother, wife, sister, cousins and several others were in the stands to see him reach the pinnacle of the game in Canada. Toronto is a roughly three-hour flight from Winnipeg, Manitoba’s lone large airport, but they wouldn’t miss it.
“I wasn’t sure I’d go in, but I was prepared, and you’re always ready to go in,” Hiebert said. “I was excited to be able to have the opportunity, especially here at home.”
While Hiebert’s CanMNT call-up came in relief of injured CF Montréal center back Kamal Miller, he wasn’t far off from making the initial roster, given the hot start to his MLS career with St. Louis.
He’s started four games in CITY SC’s record-setting 5W-0L-0D start, which is approaching the best-ever start by any team in MLS’s 28 seasons. Most memorably, Hiebert scored the game-winner during a 2-1 comeback victory for St. Louis at the Portland Timbers in Matchday 3.
“He looked a little bit nervous coming in to start, but who wouldn’t? When he settled in, he knew his role, and he was killing the channels for us,” CanMNT head coach John Herdman said. “He's brought maximum intensity, and he's actually got quite a big personality as well behind the scenes these days.”
The latest NCAA to CanMNT addition
The road to the national team hasn’t been simple for Hiebert, a former star with the NCAA Division I side Missouri State. MLS teams passed on him during the MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, forcing him to find an MLS NEXT Pro deal with St. Louis CITY 2 for 2022.
From there, he played his way up to the MLS expansion roster and has only grown in the role since his first start.
“It's been huge playing in St. Louis. We have top-class players like Roman Bürki, Eddie Löwen and João Klauss,” Hiebert said. “[They] have come from Europe and come from the top level, so to get the chance to train with them every day makes me up my level and helps me be prepared for moments like this.”
In his first training sessions with the CanMNT, Hiebert warmed up with fellow first-time call-ups Victor Loturi and Dominick Zator. Yet, by the time the final whistle blew on Tuesday evening, he was celebrating with the whole group, a fully-fledged member of the program.
Leaning on former Nashville SC and CF Montréal defender Alistair Johnston, Hiebert is the latest example of the MLS pathway helping develop key players while expanding Les Rouges’ center back pool during the 2026 World Cup cycle.
“He’s helped a ton to include me from the start, and he’s doing amazing at Celtic,” Hiebert said of Johnston. “It’s really cool to see. He does well in college to get into MLS, does well in MLS to get into Canada, and now he’s in Europe playing in the [UEFA] Champions League.”
Having seen the same field as former MLS stars Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Tajon Buchanan (New England Revolution) and Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), Hiebert returns to St. Louis with a new perspective as he looks to lift CITY SC to a sixth straight victory to start their MLS tenure. The newcomers host Minnesota United FC on Saturday evening in Matchday 6 (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).