Senior Vice President of Soccer & Sporting Director
Sounders FC hired Craig Waibel as the club’s Senior Vice President of Soccer Operations & Sporting Director on April 1, 2021. Waibel has spent two decades in professional soccer, including a 12-year playing career with four MLS Cup titles, and a four-year stint as Real Salt Lake’s General Manager with three postseason appearances. A University of Washington graduate and former Sounders player, Waibel reunites with General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey, with whom he worked at RSL. In his new role, Waibel assists Lagerwey in all areas of soccer operations, including scouting, player identification, player management and the club’s overall development system.
A graduate of Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Waibel played collegiate soccer at the University of Washington from 1995 through 1998. He began his pro career with the Seattle Sounders of the A-League for two seasons before an accomplished 11-year run in MLS with the Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo. The defender tallied 175 MLS appearances, eight goals and 16 assists (including postseason play), in addition to winning four MLS Cups (2002, 2003, 2006, 2007), one Supporters’ Shield (2012) and one Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2001).
Following his retirement with the Houston Dynamo in 2010, Waibel spent one year on the Michigan Wolverines coaching staff before a two-year stint under Head Coach Jamie Clark at his alma mater Washington. He then joined Real Salt Lake in 2014 as an Assistant Coach before being promoted to Technical Director in 2015, eventually taking over as General Manager following Lagerwey’s departure to Sounders FC. Waibel served in that GM role through the 2019 MLS season. Under his guidance, RSL reached the postseason in three of his four seasons as GM and cultivated an increase in youth development, with RSL Homegrown Players accounting for over 10,000 minutes in both 2018 and 2019.
He returns to the Pacific Northwest with his wife Julie, who grew up in Bellevue, and his 11-year-old daughter Jocelyn.