One of the first Sounders FC acts was the hiring of Chris Henderson in January of 2008. As Sporting Director, Henderson assists the team’s General Manager and President of Soccer, Garth Lagerwey, in all areas of soccer operations, including scouting, player management, coaching decisions and the club's youth system.
Under Henderson, Sounders FC achieved instant success from the start, which carried over to one of the best seasons in MLS history in 2014. Seattle became the first MLS club to win three-consecutive Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles (2009, 2010, 2011) and advanced to a fourth-straight final in 2012. Seattle also became the first MLS expansion team since the league began expanding in 2005 to reach the postseason in each of its first seven campaigns. In 2014, the club took home another U.S. Open Cup title and its first Supporters’ Shield. Henderson was instrumental in signing forward Obafemi Martins in 2013, who went on to become the club’s second all-time leading goal-scorer and runner-up to the 2014 MLS MVP.
Since 2009, Sounders FC players have been selected to the MLS All-Star team 21 times, including DeAndre Yedlin in 2013 – the first rookie to receive the honor since 2005. Henderson has also helped bring some of the world’s top talent to MLS in former U.S. National Team Captain Clint Dempsey, and MLS Newcomers of the Year Fredy Montero (2009) and Mauro Rosales (2011). Henderson also brought in one of the league’s premier midfielders in four-time team MVP Osvaldo Alonso, and has continued to develop local talent with the signings of Lamar Neagle and Homegrown Players like Jordan Morris, Aaron Kovar and Victor Mansaray.
Henderson is regarded as one of the most successful players ever produced by the state of Washington, having represented the U.S. at the international level 79 times and winning championships in both MLS and the NCAA. An MLS original, Henderson played 11 seasons for five teams. Upon his retirement following the 2006 season, he was the league record-holder in four categories, including career games played and started. Henderson still shares the MLS single-game assist record (four assists for Kansas City in 1999) and his 80 regular-season assists is No. 10 all-time. He finished his career with 51 goals.
Henderson joined Seattle after spending the 2007 season as an assistant coach for Kansas City. Henderson began his MLS career with Colorado for its inaugural season in 1996, and he would play six full seasons for the Rapids, with five of those squads reaching the playoffs. He set club records for career appearances and assists, earning Team MVP honors in 1996, an MLS All-Star appearance in 1997, when he also led the team in scoring and also helped Colorado reach the MLS Cup Final. Henderson achieved a career-high with 11 goals and again made the All- Star Game to begin his second stint for the Rapids in 2002. From 1999-2000 he played in Kansas City, leading the Wizards in scoring in their 2000 MLS Cup-winning run. That season, he played in a career-high 38 games, scoring 10 goals and adding nine assists.
He spent the 2001 season with the Miami Fusion, where he was the club’s Humanitarian of the Year, before returning to Colorado. He was traded during the 2005 season to Columbus and completed his career with New York in 2006. A UCLA Hall of Fame inductee in 2016, Henderson helped the Bruins win an NCAA championship and earned All-America honors in 1990. He connected on penalty kicks during tiebreaker wins in both the semifinal and final. Earlier that year, Henderson began senior international play prior to the 1990 World Cup. At age 19, he was the youngest member of the United States roster. He was also a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team and an alternate on the 1994 and 1998 World Cup squads. He set a team record with five assists in 1993 and has 10 career assists. Henderson was just the second player to have competed for the U.S. National Team on every level (U-16, U-20, Olympics, Youth World Cup, World Cup).
In 2004, the Chris Henderson Foundation was launched, giving grants to fight Leukemia and to underprivileged children. He was named the 2004 MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year and his club’s Humanitarian of the Year at Colorado, Miami and New York.
Born in Edmonds, Washington, Henderson, 43, attended Everett’s Cascade High School where he earned the 1989 Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. He played for the FC Seattle Storm in 1989 and began his professional career with Germany’s FSV Frankfurt (1994-95) and Norway’s Staebak (1995). Henderson is married to his wife Noree and has two children, Aidan and Annelise, as well as two stepchildren, Sofia and Ava. His brother, Pat, played right back for the NASL Sounders for Alan Hinton. His younger brother, Sean, played collegiately at UCLA and for the USL Sounders under Brian Schmetzer before spending three seasons in MLS.