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Chris Henderson on Tracking Talent and the Return of the Reserve League

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I love when practice is at Qwest Field and my work day allows me to take the little four block trip there. It gives me the opportunity to show my face at practice (Jeremiah goes at least once a week) and remind the team (and media) that Sounder at Heart is as much about original interviews as we are about analysis.

Today I talked with Chris Henderson first about Jamel Wallace who was practicing with the team after wrapping up his season with the Kitsap Pumas of the PDL (pro). Kitsap had a 12-2-2 record with the 9th best Goals Against in the entire PDL.

Dave Clark: Are there a couple players like that? That you have drafted, or had on trial, where you are following their progress?

Chris Henderson: Jamel, and Tye Perdido. Two guys that played this year with Kitsap. They've done a good job and we are able to have them out to training when we are able to get a hold of them. I think it is important for the depth and the possible future of a Reserve League, since our roster could expand next year. We'd have a bigger roster, and this could help us with future players.

DC: With the talk of the Reserve League, there's no public idea right now whether its a couple players or an entire team...

Henderson: That's still to be decided.

DC: Does it excite you to know that you will have 2, 4, 20 more guys you get to scout/draft/find?

Henderson: Yeah, it's exciting that there's a possibility that a Reserve League will come back. It's important for the development of our league as we grow. With the Academy teams now coming into every MLS team we can develop our own players in our own backyard. And now it's the next step from Academies with the Reserve teams. That progression is what we need. Even if we get a guy who goes to college, if we had him in our Academy we have the right to follow him in college and then sign him.

DC: I guess the last question would be, with the Transfer Window closing and the Trade Deadline about two weeks after that, there's been a lot of movement this year, not just the big name that moved on from the Sounders, but others. How much do you look at player movement that goes on and evaluate how yourself and Adrian look at your own talent and other teams evaluate talent?

Henderson: We're always looking at other teams and how we can improve our team. A lot of times, you have to weigh if that's going to improve your team by making a deal. I think we have a very deep roster. In the Champions League tournament being able to use the depth of our roster. So we're proud of the back end of our roster. Other teams are interested in our players, which is great. It means we have a good roster. We do the same thing.

We also have to look to improve our team. A lot of it has to look at our chemistry, our coaches and what they see.

DC: You've led me to one more thing. With the success and the Champions League, will that help with finding talent for 2011? Can you say "we've done this in Champions League, we've done this in the Open Cup, we've done this in the League play?" Will that help entice players to come?

Henderson: I don't think we need to entice players with the atmosphere that we've created. When players visit here they come here and play they say 'wow, what a great place to play.' We are all professionals, and trying to do things right. I think players are going to want come to something like that, but its always good when players see a team that winning and happy.

There's some great stuff there about the future of the league and the sport in America.