General Manager & Chief Soccer Officer
Sounders FC appointed Craig Waibel as the club’s General Manager & Chief Soccer Officer on November 30, 2022. 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 oversees all areas of the club’s soccer operations, encompassing the First Team, Tacoma Defiance and Sounders FC Academy.
Following Adrian Hanauer (2009-2014) and Garth Lagerwey (2015-2022), Waibel becomes the third General Manager in Sounders FC’s MLS history. Originally hired as the club’s Senior Vice President of Soccer Operations & Sporting Director on April 1, 2021, Waibel assisted Lagerwey in all areas of soccer operations, including scouting, player identification, player management and the club’s overall development system. In his time with Seattle, the club has achieved unprecedented continental success, finishing second in the 2021 Leagues Cup before becoming the first MLS team to ever win the Concacaf Champions League in 2022. Waibel was integral to the historic free-agent signing of Albert Rusnák last offseason, a player that he originally brought to MLS in 2017 while with RSL. On the development front, Tacoma Defiance had a breakout year in the inaugural 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season, winning the Pacific Division and finishing second in the Western Conference before falling in the Western Conference Final.
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 (2002) 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 lives on Bainbridge Island with his wife Julie, who grew up in Bellevue, and his daughter Jocelyn.