In late February 2014, newly-appointed Sounders FC 2 Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson sat on the sideline of a Starfire Sports practice field watching a hodge-podge of trialists and Academy players scrimmage against the University of Portland, with just a month to go before needing to field 18 players in the club’s first-ever match.
In his first year at the helm, Hendrickson managed more than 40 players through 31 matches and led S2 to a USL Playoff berth in the club’s inaugural campaign. Now, the accomplished Hendrickson will embark on another new challenge as he has been named an Assistant Coach of St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Team, a squad he captained for 12 years.
“I am very honored and privileged that my country sees a purpose in having me on the staff, said Hendrickson in the Sounders FC official release. “As a coach, you always want to enhance your knowledge and experience to get better and I am very thankful for the opportunity to give back to my country and help the quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.”
Hendrickson will assist Head Coach Cornelius Huggins through the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Group C of the CONCACAF region, a group that includes the United States, Marco Pappa’s Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobego.
“[Cornelius] is a friend of mine and someone I played with on the National Team back in the day,” Hendrickson said. “We have a common mission and that is the betterment of football in the country. Our goal is to uplift our country because it is such a big part of life back home.”
Hendrickson won’t be the only Vincentian to travel back to St. Vincent for qualifying. S2 players Oalex Anderson and Myron Samuel, a pair of young strikers from the island country, have both played for the National Team and Anderson helped with a couple goals to get the Vincy Heat to this point.
“It’s going to help having both Oalex and potentially Myron because they both know my style as a coach,” Hendrickson said. “They know I demand a lot from players, but at the end of the day, it is my job to help [Huggins] make the decisions that will help this team.”
The small Caribbean team has the chance to play giant-killer as they visit the regional powerhouse of the United States on November 13 in St. Louis.
The big names in St. Vincent’s group won’t strike fear into the eyes of Hendrickson, though. As captain, Hendrickson led his squad through 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cup Qualifying making 24 appearances as a defender.
“The knowledge and experience I picked up in those 12 years will absolutely help me prepare this team,” said Hendrickson. “When you play these bigger teams, you can put yourself in a really good position to advance by winning at home.
“This is a huge opportunity for our country to show the world what we can do. We are expecting huge support from the people of St. Vincent, I can’t wait.”