by JP Schwmon
Ezra Hendrickson – the Layou born, former National Senior Men’s football team defender – was recently ranked amongst several heavyweight soccer professionals as one of eight possible contenders for Head Coach vacancies in the US based Major League Soccer franchise.
The 49 year-old former athlete confirmed, in an exclusive Asbert News Network interview, that he is actively courting several clubs in search of the much coveted top trainer spot.
“It’s my aspiration to be a Head Coach one day. If you look at the list of names it’s guys like [Antonio] Conte and very established international coaches who are on it. So to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys; it’s an achievement.
“It’s something I’m proud of but being mentioned on a list is one thing. Getting the job or getting an opportunity for an interview is another thing.
“I have two interviews coming up this week – one with the Chicago [Fire FC] and the other with [FC] Dallas. I’m looking forward to those. Hopefully those lead to second interviews and possibly landing a job because I think with my resume, my experience and what I’ve done in this league – as they say – it’s my time and I hope it comes to fruition,” Hendrickson shared via a WhatsApp call.
Greg Seltzer, in his mlssoccer.com article, described Hendrickson as: “a Sigi Schmid [Seattle Sounders]/Caleb Porter [Colombus Crew] protégée who won MLS Cup with three different teams, so he understands winning cultures.”
In reference to two of the head coaches whom Hendrickson has quite ably assisted practically since he hang up his cleats in 2008.
“It could be a hoot if FC Cincinnati tried to poach him away from their rivals, but I actually think it would be most interesting to see what he could do with Real Salt Lake,” Seltzer continued.
We asked Hendrickson to share his thoughts on Seltzer’s opinion as to which clubs could benefit best from his unique coaching style. He replied: “with my experience and success, I think I’d be a great fit for several teams that have ambitions to win trophies.”
A former Vincy Heat captain (for an astounding 12-year stretch), Hendrickson – in all of his 6 ft 3 inches glory – earned 123 caps for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, playing for the national team from 1995-2008. Current East Kingstown MP Fitz Bramble, Orande Ash, Keith Ollivierre and Marlon James were amongst the players with whom Hendrickson competed the only time Vincy Heat qualified for the Gold Cup back in 1996.
Since that ’96 season, “Hendrickson was drafted 5th overall in the1997 MLS Supplemental Draft by the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, for whom he played eight forgettable matches in 1997,” according to Wikipedia.com.
His career took on some highs and lows but he went on to earn a further 139 caps for the LA Galaxy outfit netting some 17 goals during his 1997-2003 tenure with that club.
Just before Hendrickson began his coaching career with the Seattle Sounders FC in 2009, serving under head coach Sigi Schmid — a member of the Crew’s Circle of Honour – he helped the Columbus Crew to win their first MLS Cup trophy during his 2006-2008 contract; massivereport.com chronicled.
He eventually netted the head coach spot while working with the Seattle Sounders FC II after his 14-year professional career which included 12 seasons in Major League Soccer. During this time he worked to expose other Vincentian soccer players including Myron Samuel and Oalex Anderson to that level of the game.
Today he is the Columbus Crew’s Assistant Coach, a position he’s held since 2019.
Although he’s been gone from SVG since 1985, Hendrickson professes: “I know that there are a lot of talented players there on Saint Vincent. I do my best, whenever I’m in a position to bring players up, so I’ll continue to do that.
“Getting a Head Coaching job in MLS would be very, very helpful in that aspect because as an Assistant Coach you have ideas or suggestions but you don’t really get to make the final decisions.
“Being a Head Coach would change that so there’d be more opportunities for me to bring guys in because I’m always 100% Vincy and I’m always looking to bring the next big player out of SVG.
“I know the talent is there so I’m just awaiting the opportunity to really scout – I have people on the ground at home who keeps me in touch and I watch all the games that Vincy Heat plays so I know who’s doing well on the national level but sometimes there are guys who are not on the national team or maybe not old enough to be on the national team who have talent – because we all know sometimes the best players are not on the national teams; maybe they are in the areas that don’t get scouted or just don’t have any interest in playing for the national team or some players maybe for disciplinary reasons but whatever reasons you don’t always find the top players on the national team.
“You’d find most of the top players but sometimes there’s always one or two who’d fall through the cracks and those are the players who, sometimes, get overlooked that I look into.”
A father of 2 girls and a Business Administration major at the Drake University in Iowa; Hendrickson earned his U.S. Soccer A Coaching License in December of 2008.
“We can’t play football or any sport forever. So, preparing yourself for life after soccer is key and I think that starts with education. My mom, who still lives in Layou, was very instrumental in making sure that I got a proper education because you never know what can happen.
“You could wind up with a broken leg or a life changing or career ending injury and then you have to move to a different aspect of the game. Soccer is wide ranging sport where – it’s a business. So when you’re done playing you have to have something to do – if you love the sport and you want to continue.
“I was able to get a college education through the sport, using my talents, to prepare myself so that when I was done playing I could move into coaching or the administrative level, front office or wherever.
“And I chose coaching; so my advice to players playing right now is to look into that. You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar or anything to be a coach. Some of the best coaches just learnt from reading and watching videos.
“It’s a business so when you’re done playing I think you should be prepared for life after the sport.
“I think what is lacking in St. Vincent is coaching education as far as the coaches getting their licenses – it’s like in any job. If you’re a teacher you’d want to retool every now and again – ‘sharpening your saw’ so to speak.
“It’s like you could be ‘bright’ in college or high school but if you don’t go get that higher education which is essential – and coaching education is that higher education after you’ve played where you’re learning to apply what you know and what you’re physically able to do in the game – it’s difficult sometimes to reach the players.
“So I think coaching education is a big thing in the country which needs to improve. That would help the coaches which would in turn help them to reach the players in a proper way,” Hendrickson advised.