MLS defender expresses interest in declaring for the Republic of Ireland

The 22-year-old has an Irish mother and says that representing the Boys in Green would be a ‘dream come true.’

New England Revolution centre back Henry Kessler has expressed his desire to declare for the Republic of Ireland. New York-born Kessler is considered as one of the best young defenders in the MLS.

New England Revolution are top of the Eastern Conference and the 6’4 USA Under-23 international has been an ever-present at the back. Kessler made his debut for New England in February 2020 and has made a total of 31 appearances for the Eastern Conference leaders since, scoring one goal.

Henry Kessler in MLS.

Kessler’s performances last season made him a contender for Rookie of the Year and the official MLS social media channels highlighted his outstanding defensive displays. In his four starts this campaign he has completed 88% of his passes and boasts of a 75% tackle completion.

Kessler grew up in New York and was three years of age when the 9/11 terrorist attack devastated his home city. The Ireland hopeful told mlssoccer.com that his family lost ‘plenty of friends’ in the attack, which had a hugely profound impact on his childhood.

“There’s a chilling image that I have of us on our roof, trying to figure out what’s going on, and just being submerged in a cloud of smoke coming from the direction of the towers,” said Kessler in September 2020. “So that’s something that really brings me back to reality, I think, and levels with me.

Harry Kessler.

“In the coming weeks, the streets were flooded with tanks, which is a crazy thing to think that tanks are in New York City. You couldn’t open your windows for a month, just because of the cloud of smoke that was coming by.

“Obviously I was very young, but my parents had plenty of friends that died that day. So, it’s a tough day for New Yorkers, tough day for Americans, really a tough day for the world.”

Any challenges that Kessler faced in his football career must have felt insignificant compared to that what his family faced back in 2001. Great resilience was nonetheless required from the defender to reach the Major League Soccer stage.

Kessler was invited to New York Red Bulls’ academy at the age of 12 but eventual rejection left him needing to travel long distances to different clubs across the course of a few years before his big chance eventually arrived.

After spells at Beachside SC and Virginia Cavaliers, Kessler was drafted by New England Revolution in 2019 where he made his debut in February 2020 and hasn’t looked back since.

It is understood that Kessler applied for an Irish passport last year and is now hoping to complete the required paperwork needed to make him eligible to Stephen Kenny and his Ireland staff.

The defender will add to Ireland’s promising centre-back options including Norwich’s Andrew Omobamidele, Stoke City’s Nathan Collins and West Brom’s Dara O’Shea.

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