Source: Seattle Sounders to name Craig Waibel as next sporting director

CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Sounders. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Sounders. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Sounders have closed in on their next sporting director to replace Chris Henderson.

Multiple sources tell FanSided’s ‘MLS Multiplex‘ that Craig Waibel is set to be named the Sounders next sporting director. The former MLS standout was most recently with Real Salt Lake where he has been general manager since 2015.

The expected announcement of Waibel comes as the Sounders lost Chris Henderson to Inter Miami this offseason, the former United States international tasked with helping to right the ship in south Florida.

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Henderson oversaw a successful run with Seattle, where he was technical director since the club’s inaugural season in MLS in 2009. They’ve won two MLS Cups and a Supporters Shield under his direction.

In Waibel, the Sounders are adding an executive with a proven track record of developing young players and working with a budget. Money restraints shouldn’t be a concern with the Sounders, who routinely are in the top three in MLS in spending and are aggressive on the transfer market.

Waibel spent four seasons in Salt Lake which covered all or parts of five MLS seasons. They made the playoffs three times during that stretch and twice advanced the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

The Sounders, who made MLS Cup last year  but lost to a massive Columbus Crew side, are among the most-talented teams in the league. Along with Los Angeles FC, they are among the favorites in the Western Conference to advance again to the league’s championship game.

Prior to his role as sporting director, Waibel was an assistant in 2014 at Real Salt Lake. He has deep ties to the Pacific Northwest, having been born in Portland, OR and playing his college soccer at Washington.

His first three seasons as a professional soccer player were spent with the Spokane Shadow in the USISL. Waibel then spent two seasons in the USL with the Seattle Sounders during their pre-MLS days.

He would then go on to a very solid MLS career, winning a total of four MLS Cups before transitioning into coaching and management.