Vincy Heat takes on Team USA for 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier!

13 Nov

Source:US Soccer

Later today, St. Vincent and the Grenadines football team, Vincy Heat, takes on the United States men’s national team takes in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in St.Louis at the Busch Stadium.

Former MLS defender and current Seattle Sounders FC 2 coach Ezra Hendrickson joined the St. Vincent technical staff last month as they ramped up for Round Three of CONCACAF FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Having played 123 times for Vincy Heat, Hendrickson is the Caribbean nation’s most accomplished soccer son.

“For me it’s a great opportunity to give back to my country,” he 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.”

After early exits from the last two qualifying cycles, the nation’s Football Federation hired Hendrickson’s former national teammate Cornelius Huggins as senior team head coach and put a new emphasis on rebuilding its national programs, investing in youth development with hopes of longer-term gains for the full team.

“A lot of these guys you’ll see on Friday are under 24 years old,” he added. “It’s a very young team, but it’s not inexperienced. A lot of the guys played recently in Olympic qualifying – they’ve played a lot of international games at U-23, U-20 and U-17 level. It’s a good thing that the country has done this, it puts us in a situation where for the next 10 years we have 21, 22 year old guys who can continue to play and help our full national team advance.”

“Once we keep the same consistency and continue on that road, this is just a start for what St. Vincent football can be and become. I think Friday will be the start of something very, very special.”

Another part of helping St. Vincent develop its national team is getting more players playing club ball outside of the tiny island nation. Hendrickson has played his part there as well, signing attackers Oalex Anderson and Myron Samuel to Seattle Sounders FC 2 this past season.

While Samuel picked up an injury during the season, Anderson tallied four goals in 16 games for Sounders 2. Since making his international debut in 2014, he’s found the back of the net nine times in 14 appearances for Vincy Heat, including the second goal in St. Vincent’s 2-0 victory against Aruba in the first leg of the side’s second round CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match on Sept. 4.

“The U.S. 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 U.S. 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.”

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