Sounders FC today announced that longtime club executive and original employee Chris Henderson has accepted the role of Chief Soccer Officer & Sporting Director with Inter Miami CF. A former Major League Soccer and U.S. Men’s National Team veteran as a player, Henderson was the club’s first technical staff hire after receiving its MLS charter in 2008, ultimately serving as the club’s Vice President of Soccer & Sporting Director. He leaves Sounders FC after nearly 13 years in the organization, helping lead the club to 12 postseason appearances and seven major trophies, including two MLS Cup titles.
“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,” said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. “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.”
Under Henderson, Sounders FC achieved instant success from the start, becoming the first MLS club to win three consecutive Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles (2009, 2010, 2011) before advancing to a fourth-straight final in 2012. The Rave Green captured a fourth Open Cup title, as well as the Supporters’ Shield, in 2014, before making four MLS Cup Final appearances over five seasons from 2016-2020, including a pair of titles in 2016 and 2019. Having never missed the postseason since entering the league, Sounders FC’s 12-year streak in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs is the longest all-time.
“To my family, friends and the entire Sounders FC community: I extend my heartfelt gratitude for the support, kindness and inspiration you have shown me over the last 13 years,” said Henderson. “It has been great winning with you and sharing in the amazing success we have accomplished together. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to be a part of the esteemed Sounders FC legacy, working alongside some of the most talented and creative minds in Major League Soccer. To have this experience in my hometown has been an unbelievable blessing.”
Under Henderson’s watch since 2009, Sounders FC players have been selected to the MLS All-Star team 24 times, including DeAndre Yedlin in 2013 – the first rookie to receive the honor since 2005. 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 for the 2014 MLS MVP. He has also helped bring some of the world’s top talent to MLS in former U.S. Men’s National Team captain Clint Dempsey, MLS Newcomers of the Year Fredy Montero (2009), Mauro Rosales (2011) and Nicolás Lodeiro (2016), 2019 MLS Cup MVP Víctor Rodríguez, as well as current Designated Players Raúl Ruidíaz and João Paulo. Henderson also brought in one of the league’s premier midfielders in four-time team MVP Osvaldo Alonso back in 2009, and has continued to develop local talent with the signings of numerous Homegrown Players, including U.S. Men’s National Team forward Jordan Morris.
“It is with great pride that we send Chris off to Miami. This is an opportunity both richly deserved and long overdue,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “Sounders FC’s track record of success over 12 years is due to Chris as much as any other person in the organization. He picked so many outstanding players it is impossible to recount them all here. Chris was vital to the culture that we have built in Seattle, exhibiting kindness to his coworkers and standing resolute in his determination to carry out his duties at an extremely high level. He will not only be missed, but he is impossible to replace. We wish him the utmost success in his new endeavor and hope to see him again down the road. Today we lose an all-time great Sounder, but the foundation Chris helped build has established our club as a premier pipeline for identifying and developing talent on and off the field. As he moves on to Miami, we take some solace in that and will continue the work that he started.”
Henderson is regarded as one of the most successful players ever produced by the state of Washington, having represented the United States 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 are good for tenth all-time. He finished his career with 51 goals.
“Chris has been a crucial part of this organization since its inception, and much of the club’s success is owed to his influence,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “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.
Born in Edmonds, Washington, Henderson attended Everett’s Cascade High School, where he earned the 1989 Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. A UCLA Hall of Fame inductee in 2016, Henderson helped the Bruins win an NCAA championship and earned All-America honors in 1990.