Orange County and US Under-20 defenseman Kobi Henry look to impress with USMNT

Kobi Henry is one of the surprising names in the USMNT’s December roster, but the Orange County defenseman comes into the camp after a USL title with Orange County and a strong American U-20 camp. Brian Sciaretta from ASN spoke with Henry about his past before the meeting and his goals for the future.


Brian Sciaretta


December 10, 2021


THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL The squad are currently assembled in California for a rare December camp and the roster has a youthful flavor with eight players also eligible for the U.S. U-20 squad who will look to both qualify for the U-20 World Cup. 2023 and the 2024 Olympics. Among these players is Kobi Henry.

Henry, 17, was among the more surprising selections, but the center-back arrived at the camp on the heels of a strong camp with the United States U-20 team in addition to being a member of the Orange team. County SC who won the USL Championship title. November 28.

Soon after, he got a call from Gregg Berhalter telling him he was called up for the camp which will end with a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I’m really excited to go out there, prove myself and hopefully score my place in the men’s team,” said Henry of his opportunity in the national team camp. “I was a little surprised because things happened recently and I just won the USL Championship – I’ve had a lot of good news recently so I’m really grateful for this opportunity.”

Henry did not play in the USL Finals, but he finished the season with 19 appearances, 16 starts and 1,494 minutes in the USL Championship. Orange County has built their success on a combination of youth and veteran leadership – especially on the backline which is anchored by former US national team defenseman Michael Orozco, former center-back of Rangers Rob Kiernan and former New England Revolution full-back Kevin Alston.

“Playing in USL has been a great learning experience for me. I think it’s definitely a very difficult league to play and it’s really physical, ”Henry said of USL. You have to learn not only to be talented, but also to play smart… It’s a really competitive league and especially with our journey through the playoffs, I just found out what it’s like to be a champion, like most people my age couldn’t tell. “

Of course, part of what prompted Henry to sign for Orange County was his desire to go to Europe and the club worked with other young players like Bryang Kayo (now at Viktoria Berlin on loan from Wolfsburg ) to help them go abroad earlier. . Henry was previously part of the youth roster at Inter Miami, but felt Orange County offered him the path he was looking for.

“I was in Miami and it was a great club,” said Henry. “I was treated very well, but I knew I had a passion to go to Europe in the future. MLS is a very good league, but I grew up watching the Premier League every weekend with my brother.

“Orange County has the path to Pro where they could send the young players on different tries and there is a connection with the Rangers,” he added. “It was a dream – besides having staff on the team and veterans like Michael Orozco and Rob Kiernan – to just learn from these players. It just caught my attention and it certainly worked in my favor. I learned a lot from these guys.

Growing up, Henry lived in almost 10 different places with his parents, both teachers, moving frequently. He was born in Florida but has also lived in places like New York, New Jersey and even Bermuda.

Although he travels frequently, football has always been a constant theme in his life as the sport is common in his family. His father played semi-pro and his brother, Jazz Henry, is a forward for the Western College Los Angeles men’s team. His mother was running on the track. Perhaps most interestingly, his grandfather, Ken Henry, was the former strength and conditioning coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national team and was on staff in 1989 when the States National Team United recorded a historic 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago to qualify. for the 1990 World Cup.

Next year, however, will be a big year for him as he turns 18 and will be eligible to move abroad. There’s also the US U-20 team and Henry should be in the plans for new head coach Mikey Varas. Last month, Henry was part of the team’s first camp in Mexico where they lost to Brazil 4-0, drew Colombia 1-1 and lost to Mexico 2-1.

The team had a makeshift nature during this camp as many players had never played together given that most of the national youth teams had been inactive since January 2020 due to COVID. Varas was only hired two days before the team’s trip to Mexico and was starting to get to know the team as well.

“Despite the results, I actually think the trip was a success,” said Henry. “Just because I believe that as a group from day one to the last, the way we functioned as a team – there was just a big difference. We grew up together as a family. We got to know each other’s playstyle and things like that, what kind of players people are. So I think it was a good tournament to lay the foundation for the U-20 cycle. If we practice a little more and understand the tactics, we’ll be a real threat. “

“[Mikey Varas] is a very good communicator and made sure to talk to every player and have a good relationship with all of us, ”he added. “It was definitely a comfortable environment and it was easier to get in and play our game.”

With another U-20 camp taking place next month and with much of the core squad with the current US squad, this is a priority. For now, however, he is happy to be surrounded by and learning from many of the national team’s veterans.

Arriving at the camp after playing for the United States U-20 team and winning a USL title with Orange County, he feels well positioned to take important steps on the international stage.

“Being a champion so early in my career just gives me a real boost of confidence and it allows me to have standards on where my mentality should go,” said Henry. “That I should always hold myself at a higher level because I’ve been with a team that won a championship.”

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