Orange County SC’s approach to building their 2020 USL Championship roster has been a unique one. One of the perennial contenders in the Western Conference, they have top USL talent like Aodhan Quinn, Sean “Ugo” Okoli, and Thomas Enevoldsen to help battle for the crown in Group B of the USL Championship restart. But, on the other end, they’ve also compiled a group of intriguing, young players that will provide depth and potential for the club’s future. During the USL’s COVID-19-related hiatus, OCSC added USMNT U-17 defender Kobi Henry to that mix.
A native of Florida, Henry spent the last year with the academy of MLS expansion side Inter Miami. “This past season at Inter Miami was a very good experience for me,” Kobi told BGN. “I developed to a great extent with the help of the coaching staff, especially my head coach, Javi Morales. My teammates always provided a competitive environment and loved the game.”
Rather than stay in the Sunshine State, he decided the best move for his career was to head west and join Orange County. He explained, “From day one, Orange County was extremely hospitable towards my family and I. It was clear to me that the staff was dedicated to improving younger players and had an impressive plan set up for me.
“Orange County has a very diverse group of players and staff with a lot of experience and this is something that I can use to my advantage by learning from these players and coaches who have been at such high levels.”
Henry mentioned the club’s dedication to improving young players and he is joining a roster that features multiple other teenagers. “I was really excited when I heard there were younger players around my age on the team and we have gotten along very well,” he said. t is great to have other players my age as we are always having fun competing and pushing each other to become better on and off the field.” But, he said it’s been every single player that has been welcoming to him, not just the fellow youngsters, and that’s made his transition smooth.
Another potential boost to make that move easier for him would be having his parents nearby. Kobi said, “My parents are making an effort to be in California with me and I am extremely grateful for this. Over the years, they have made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that I am at all my soccer events and cannot thank them enough.”
Obviously, there isn’t much footage an OC supporter could watch to get familiar with their young central defender. But, he did shed some light on his favorite center-back and one that he models his game after. “I love watching Mats Hummels on Borussia Dortmund. He is a world-class center back and I learn from him in every game I watch,” Henry said. “He has a great knowledge of the game and uses it to his advantage every time he steps on the field. I hope to do the same in the future.”
When I asked long-term if he may be interested in a return to Inter Miami, Kobi had a more ambitious landing spot in mind. “My ultimate goal is to eventually have a successful career in Europe,” he answered.
He will get the chance to start his professional journey a week from today when Orange County SC hosts Phoenix Rising FC in their first match in the USL Championship return.