SEATTLE, WASH. – Sounders FC today announced several updates to its technical staff ahead of the 2018 season, including the hiring of Damian Roden – previously with Stoke City of the English Premier League – as its new High Performance Director to oversee all aspects of the club’s fitness and sports science programs. Additionally, John Hutchinson has been promoted to Head Coach of Sounders FC 2 following the departure of Ezra Hendrickson to the LA Galaxy.
“Heading into a new campaign, we are pleased to announce a number of quality additions to our technical staff and several deserving promotions,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “As S2 readies for its first season in Tacoma, we feel fortunate that we have a talented leader like John Hutchinson on-staff to lead the development of our top young pros in the United Soccer League. Ezra Hendrickson has been a tremendous steward for our club, bolstering the launch of S2 in 2015 and guiding the development of our young players since that time. We wish him every success with the Galaxy in the next step of his career. Additionally, we’re excited to welcome Damian Roden to our club – one of the top sports science minds in our business that has proven himself in arguably the world’s most challenging topflight division throughout his career.”
Roden arrives in the Pacific Northwest from Stoke City, where he worked as the Premier League club’s Head of Sports Science, helping the Potters to some of their best topflight finishes over the past four seasons in their 155-year history. While at Stoke from 2013 through the beginning of this year, the club’s injury rates remained among the lowest in the league and, on a youth level, Roden oversaw a program that reduced injuries from 36% to 4%. Prior to his time at Stoke City, Roden held positions with Queens Park Rangers (2012-2013), the Football Association of Wales (2011-2012) and Manchester City (2008-2010). Roden replaces former Sounders FC sports science lead Dave Tenney, who departed the club in late 2017 for a similar role with the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association.
“Already Damian’s impact on our club has been felt, and he’s done a fantastic job of integrating himself within our group through the first phase of preseason camp,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “Damian’s extensive background in the Premiership and obvious ability to work with our players is going to really benefit our club as we embark on a season with multiple fronts, beginning with CONCACAF Champions League in just a few weeks. We’re pleased he’s here, and know that he will help push our players to an even higher level.”
After his first season with S2 in 2017 as an assistant to Hendrickson, Hutchinson brings an impressive playing background to the sideline after an accomplished career in his native Australia from 1996 through 2015. The Victoria, Australia native spent 10 seasons with the A-League’s Central Coast Mariners, where he set a club record with 268 total appearances and scored 18 goals. A three-time captain for the Mariners, Hutchinson skippered the 2013 Grand Final champion squad. In addition to playing for Sydney-based Northern Spirt and registering 89 appearances for the Gippsland Falcons, Hutchinson spent time with Chendu Blades in the Chinese Super League. Eligible due to his grandmother’s Maltese decent, Hutchinson earned 11 caps for Malta. He made his first appearance in a 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Sweden. During the 2015 season, Hutchinson, who has a Coaching A License, made a seamless transition to the technical side for the Mariners, where he served as a coach through the 2016 campaign before joining S2.
As part of today’s announcement, longtime Sounders FC Academy coach Wade Webber is joining Hutchinson’s staff as S2 Assistant Coach. The former Sounder brings a decade of professional playing experience, including 53 MLS appearances for Dallas and Miami from 1997-1999. Since retiring from playing in 1999, Webber has coached youth soccer extensively throughout Western Washington, including the last two seasons with the Sounders FC Academy and the previous seven as Director of Coaching for Washington Premier FC. Webber has a USSF A License and a Master’s Degree in Teaching from Seattle University. He has also served as a radio analyst for Sounders FC broadcasts since 2012.
Hendrickson departs Sounders FC after serving as S2’s Head Coach since the club’s inaugural USL season in 2015, helping to develop a number of First Team players, including current Sounders FC fullback Nouhou. Hendrickson originally joined Seattle as an Assistant Coach for the First Team staff in January of 2009 prior to the club’s MLS launch. He rejoins former Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid in Los Angeles, where they won an MLS title together in 2002.
“We’re thrilled for John and Wade, they’ve earned this opportunity with S2 and will continue their great work developing our best and brightest players at the USL level,” said Sounders FC Vice President of Soccer & Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “We also wish Ezra nothing but the best as he rejoins Sigi Schmid’s staff in LA. He deserves recognition for the work he accomplished here in launching S2 and his contributions to our First Team.”
Sounders FC also announced a number of other staffing changes on the technical side of the club. In addition to his Academy oversight, Marc Nicholls has been promoted to Director of Player Development, while longtime Data Analyst Ravi Ramineni has been elevated to Director of Soccer Analytics. Additionally, Corey Sinser is now the club’s Manager of S2 Player Relations, joining Hutchinson’s staff alongside Webber, S2 Performance Coach Brandon Moran, S2 Athletic Trainer Joe Montgomery and other support staff.
Hilary Obert has been added to the team’s medical staff as a Physical Therapist, while the equipment staff has added Mitch Carnefix as S2 Equipment Manager and Andrew Carlin as Equipment Intern. Former Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Kolarcik has departed the club to become the Director of Sports Science for the Colorado Rapids, while longtime Assistant Equipment Manager Scott Tranilla has been brought on as Equipment Manager of expansion side Los Angeles FC. Former Assistant Athletic Trainer Aki Tajima also departed the club during the offseason for a role with the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
The 2018 Sounders FC preseason presented by adidas continues with a week-long trip to Tucson, featuring friendlies against the Portland Timbers on February 3 and Columbus Crew SC on February 4. Prior to the MLS regular season starting on March 4, Sounders FC is set to face Salvadoran club Santa Tecla FC in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the region's premier club championship, with the first leg in El Salvador on February 22 and the second leg at CenturyLink Field on March 1. Sounders FC season tickets are still available, including new 2018 seating options in the 300 level, as well single-match tickets for each of Seattle’s home matches. For complete information, details and pricing on 2018 Sounders FC season tickets, fans should visit SoundersFC.com/tickets, call 877-MLS-GOAL or email Sales@SoundersFC.com.