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Breakthrough season continues for St. Louis City SC's Canadian defender Kyle Hiebert

St. Louis City FC defender Kyle Hiebert is shown in action March 4, 2022 in St. Louis during a 3-2 win over Charlotte FC in the expansion team’s home opener. Hiebert, who has helped expansion St. Louis City SC to a record 4-0-0 start in Major League Soccer, has been called up by Canada coach John Herdman for upcoming CONCACAF Nations League matches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-St. Louis City FC **MANDATORY CREDIT**

Centre back Kyle Hiebert, who has helped expansion St. Louis City SC to a record 4-0-0 start in Major League Soccer, has been called up by Canada coach John Herdman for upcoming CONCACAF Nations League matches.

The 25-year-old from La Salle, Man., replaces the injured Kamal Miller of CF Montreal.

The 53rd-ranked Canadian men play at No. 86 Curacao on Saturday before returning home to host No. 81 Honduras next Tuesday at BMO Field.

The games are the first for Canada since the World Cup in Qatar.

It's a first senior call-up for Hiebert, who has played every minute this season in helping St. Louis become the first expansion club in MLS history to win its first four games.

Canada (1-0-1) stands second in League A Group C standings, sandwiched between Honduras (2-0-1) and Curacao (1-0-2). The Canadians opened Nations League play last June, blanking Curacao 4-0 in Vancouver before losing 2-1 to Honduras in San Pedro Sula.

The Canadian team is currently training in the Miami area before leaving for Curacao on Thursday.

The four group winners in League A advance to the 2022-23 Nations League semifinals in Las Vegas. The Canadian men failed to make the final four of the inaugural edition of the tournament, finishing runner-up to the eventual champion Americans in their group.

With the top two teams in each of the pools booking their tickets to the 2023 Gold Cup, Canada can secure qualification for the CONCACAF championship with a draw Saturday.

Ignored in the 2022 MLS draft despite a stellar collegiate career at Missouri State, Hiebert turned heads in the MLS Next Pro league with St. Louis' reserve side last year. He was rewarded in August with a two-year contract with the first team, plus an option for 2025.

St. Louis opened life in MLS with a 3-2 victory at Austin FC before downing visiting Charlotte FC 3-1 in front of 22,423 ecstatic fans at CityPark, its new US$458-million soccer-specific stadium. The expansion side then won in Portland and blanked visiting San Jose 3-0 on Saturday.

There was a vacancy at centre back this season with Swedish international Joakim Nilsson recovering from a long-term knee injury. Hiebert has partnered with Tim Parker and Lucas Bartlett in the heart of St. Louis defence. Parker and fullback Jake Nerwinski are both former Vancouver Whitecaps.

Hiebert had a rough start to his collegiate career at Missouri State, missing both the 2015 and 2016 seasons with knee injuries.

He redshirted after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in 2015. His comeback in 2016 was delayed when he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the Bears’ penultimate pre-season game at Creighton.

Restored to health, Hiebert went on to make 86 starts for Missouri State and was named Defensive Player of the Year three times in the Missouri Valley Conference.

In 2019, he was part of a record-setting Missouri State team that went 16-0-0 in the regular season and won the college’s first-ever NCAA tournament game (against the University of Denver).

Hiebert was twice named one of 15 semifinalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which goes to the top NCAA player.

Away from the field, Hiebert has earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting along with a data analytics in accounting certificate.

Hiebert joins goalkeeper Tom McGill (Brighton & Hove Albion, England) and midfielder Victor Loturi (Ross County FC, Scotland) as first-time Canada senior call-ups.

Hiebert has represented Canada at the under-18 level.


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 This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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