Though his soccer career has taken him many places in this country and around the world, Everett native Chris Henderson always hoped the game would someday return him to the Pacific Northwest.
On Thursday, he got his wish.
Henderson, a 1989 Cascade High School graduate who went on to play professionally in the United States and Europe, was named Thursday as the technical director for Seattle’s new entry in Major League Soccer. He will assist Adrian Hanauer, general manager of the as-yet-unnamed team, with such tasks as scouting, player acquisitions and planning the team’s proposed training center, all leading up to the team’s scheduled 2009 debut.
“This really is a dream job,” said the 37-year-old Henderson. “To be in the same place where I grew up and then coming back now with a family, I’m really excited about the opportunity to live here again.”
As for the job itself, “it’s an opportunity for me to work together with Adrian for a full year before we even have a team,” he said. “It will be great for us to set things up even before we have the players come in. We’ll really be able to get everything in line to run a first-class organization.”
“We are very excited to add Chris to our MLS Seattle operation,” Hanauer said in a release. “Chris brings tremendous knowledge of the MLS system and players to our organization.
Henderson is already on the job in Seattle, though his family — he and his wife Dee have a son Aidan and a daughter Annelise — remains in Kansas City, where he was an assistant coach for the MLS Wizards last season.
“We have two kids in school in Kansas City, and we need to sell our house there,” he said. “So depending on how long that takes, I’ll be going back on weekends and at different times because I need to help my wife keep the family together. But I’m here now and starting to work with the team and focusing on next year.”
After graduating from Cascade, Henderson attended UCLA and then went on to play 15 pro seasons, including 11 with MLS. He appeared in 317 games, second all-time among MLS players, and had 51 goals and 80 assists in his MLS career.
Henderson was also part of the U.S. national team at the 1990 World Cup and the 1992 Olympics, and was a U.S. team alternate for the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.
Last season was Henderson’s first as a retired player, and he enjoyed coaching with the Wizards. He says he is open to that possibility should it ever arise in Seattle.
For now, though, “I’m coming back to do a job as technical director,” he said. “This is the job I wanted to do immediately from playing. … I love coaching and it’s something I have a passion for as well, but this is really a dream job.
“But I’ll never say never,” he added. “I would keep my mind open to (a coaching job) as well if that opportunity came.”