Chris Henderson is officially leaving the Sounders to become Inter Miami CF’s new chief soccer officer and sporting director, his new club announced Monday. The Cascade High alum has worked a similar position for the Sounders FC since 2008.
Henderson put Seattle on the map as a top-tier soccer club in his position as Sounders vice president of soccer and sporting director. One of the franchise’s first hires, Henderson helped acquire talent such as Nico Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz, and Clint Dempsey. The Sounders won two MLS Cups, four U.S. Open Cups, a MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2014, four Western Conference championships and advanced to the league playoffs a MLS-record 12 consecutive seasons.
The Sounders advanced to the MLS Cup final last month, losing to the Columbus Crew SC.
Born in Edmonds, Henderson was named the 1989 Gatorade National Player of the Year. He played for the U.S. national team and is a MLS original (1996-2006), coincidentally making a stop with the Miami Fusion in 2001.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me to take the next step in my career, return back to South Florida and solidify my mark on this league,” Henderson said in a news release. “I have always believed in the Inter Miami project and the club’s ability to become a powerhouse not only in MLS but across the global soccer industry.
“My goal is to work with the technical staff to ensure we have a roster that fits the style of soccer we want while maintaining a healthy pipeline of youth, league wide and international players who could contribute to the team’s success on and off the field. I’m looking forward to joining Inter Miami’s journey and reconnecting with the fan base in South Florida.”
Henderson wrote an open letter to Sounders fans that was posted by the club Monday. It reads, in part, “the decision to take this new step was made with great consideration. It is one of the toughest I have had to make.”
The Sounders did not offer comment on when or how Henderson will be replaced. Although Henderson mentioned the club being in “good hands” with Garth Lagerwey, who is the Sounders president of soccer and general manager, and coach Brian Schmetzer, the latter has yet to have his new contract formally announced.
“Chris Henderson was the first person I hired to help build our soccer organization. He has been a massive part of Sounders FC since our club’s MLS inception and has been critical to our ongoing success,” Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer said in a news release. “Chris will be missed for his contributions and for what he added to the culture of our club. But I am so happy and excited about the opportunity that awaits him in Miami. Chris deserves this chance, and we all wish him enormous success.”
Schmetzer also praised Henderson’s work in Seattle. Along with Lagerwey, the trio built a strong club from the youth program to the first team.
“Chris has been a crucial part of this organization since its inception, and much of the club’s success is owed to his influence,” Schmetzer said. “He is a pillar of this franchise and the Seattle soccer community, and while we are sad to see him go, we wish him the best in his next venture in Miami.”