A.J. DeLaGarza sees a lot of potential in Henry Kessler, even comparing him to Omar Gonzalez.
Kessler was a regular during his first season in MLS, playing 22 of 23 games (19 starts). His second year has been a bit different, as he’s split time with Jon Bell. After being Andrew Farrell’s partner for the first four games, Kessler was relegated to the bench for the next five of seven.
The 33-year-old DeLaGarza told Kessler to continue to work hard because his time would come. When Kessler regained his starting spot on a full-time basis, he showed all of the skills that make him a promising prospect.
“He’s a very good player,” DeLaGarza said of Kessler. “Obviously, he’s very comfortable on the ball, very good one-v-one defender, communicator. He does all those things.”
DeLaGarza sees a lot of parallels between Kessler and Gonzalez since both were first-round draft picks selected by Bruce Arena. They were also both asked to play significant minutes during their rookie seasons.
Gonzalez is at the end of a storied career that includes three MLS Cups, two Supporters Shields, and 52 caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Kessler is at the beginning, as he’s just establishing himself as a reliable MLS defender. He’s also on the verge of earning his first appearance with the national team after being called up ahead of the Gold Cup knockout stage.
DeLaGarza is looking forward to seeing what Kessler’s career becomes, believing that he “has a very bright future for his club and the national team.”