Sounders fans are insatiable in their pursuit of potential signing targets, and in the wake of Obafemi Martins’ departure, Henderson’s social-media dispatches have been received with increased fervor.

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Chris Henderson knows exactly what he’s doing.

When Henderson — the Sounders’ Carmen Sandiego of a Sporting Director — goes on a scouting trip to South America and Europe, he leaves a trail of social-media bread crumbs behind him. And he knows full well who’s gobbling them up in his wake.

Sounders fans are insatiable in their pursuit of potential signing targets in the best of times. But in the wake of Obafemi Martins’ departure to China, with his Designated Player spot open for a big-name replacement and the team off to an 0-3 start, Henderson’s dispatches have been received with increased fervor.

Amateur gumshoes comb through the hints, looking for telltale signs included in Henderson’s typically unlabeled stadium-photo dispatches. A recent post on SB Nation’s Sounder at Heart website spent more than 1,500 words connecting dots throughout the Argentinean league with potential prospects.

“It’s fun,” Henderson said this week. “Sometimes I’ll throw in some trip that I took two trips ago, just to throw something in.

“I think it’s awesome. I live and breathe soccer every single day. I try to watch as many games as I can. It’s a passion for me. To have other people love the game that much also, it’s like, ‘Ah, I understand.’ If you talk to somebody who’s not a soccer person, they’d probably think, ‘Man, they’re really into it.’ But I get it.”

Last summer brought a flurry of new targets and signings: midfielders Erik Friberg and Andreas Ivanschitz, forward Nelson Valdez, defender Roman Torres. The offseason is always busy for the front office, scrambling in preparation for the high holiday of Roster Compliance Day.

“Sometimes, you can take a breath when the season starts,” Henderson said. “This year, with Oba leaving at the end, it changed everything. If anything, the wheels started spinning faster.”

And though Henderson still goes on scouting missions with one eye on the big picture — he calls the process filling out hypothetical depth charts — the immediacy of an open Designated Player spot and roster flexibility has changed his approach.

“When you go to scout in general, you look at the whole field,” Henderson said. “You take notes on every player, individual characteristics.

“If it’s one guy, you’re watching every single movement, how he reacts with his teammates, the subtle things that happen on the field — all the intricate little things you might be able to pick up on, all the little things you can’t see on TV.”

Ideally, he’ll see potential targets play multiple times, and another Sounders scout will follow up as a second opinion. For higher-risk, higher-reward signings, an interview about goals, values and ambitions also is vital.

“It is interesting when you go to scout one, DP-type player,” Henderson said. “I want to talk to reporters who are around the team. I want to talk to other agents, talk to the maintenance guy. ‘What do you think of this guy? What’s he like?’

“Then you get a real sense for the guy’s character, because I think that’s important. It’s not easy to go to a foreign country and play.”

That process has gradually streamlined for Henderson since he joined the Sounders’ front office in 2008.

He likens his growth to a metaphor passed along by a colleague: the scout as a mechanic. The physical parts are only a small fraction of the cost. The rest goes to compensate the years of experience that went into the mechanic’s intuitive ability to find the solution.

“It could take me an hour’s worth of work to pick out, ‘This is the guy we want,’ ” Henderson said. “But that’s 15 years of relationships and watching games, of playing games. It’s everything that led up to the point now where I know if a guy can make it.”

Henderson has made recent trips to South America and Europe, and the closest he’ll go toward admitting that the club is homing in on targets is by saying that he has been criss-crossing with other scouts for second opinions.

“It’s fun and exciting, but you also know that you can spend months working on a player and then, boom, somebody else comes in and takes him,” Henderson said. “Almost like how we lost Oba to China.

“Things just happen in the game where you have to be on your toes and adaptable.”

He certainly has given those bloodhounds on his tail plenty of practice.