From 2002 to the present there’s been no American soccer organization more stable than the Seattle Sounders. They’ve had just two majority owners, just two head coaches and just two general managers. That stability is going to take a small hit since Garth Lagerwey joined Atlanta United.
Adrian Hanauer and his ownership group have a huge soccer task ahead of them. One just as important as their prep for World Cup ‘26, building Longacres into their own training facility, and launching S2/Defiance.
Who will they be looking at for their next President of Soccer and General Manager? Who gets the responsibility of maintaining a club that won two MLS Cups, the Concacaf Champions League, two Western Conference titles, and multiple youth trophies under the last guy? Who gets to build depth towards Open Cups, Supporters Shields, the Leagues Cup, the Club World Cup and more?
That’s hard to say, but the Seattle Sounders family has several options.
The natural replacement for Lagerwey is someone who has replaced him before. Waibel joined Seattle after being the GM at Real Salt Lake, where he took over for Lagerwey. In his time in Seattle his biggest credited contribution was scouting the club’s first U22 signing — Leo Chu. He’s also been quite active in bringing others to the club, while running the expanded scouting team.
Waibel is local, a former Sounder and a Husky. He’s built a mid-level club before and could thrive replacing Garth.
Chance of happening: >50%
When Garth joined Seattle, Chris Henderson left for Inter Miami, to pick up the mess that earned the Beckham-owned team multiple punishments. Under his leadership Miami became a better team despite being cash-strapped and unable to sign a DP. He also managed to snag former Sounder DeAndre Yedlin.
Chris was the #2 during the Sounders’ MLS launch, is a former USMNT guy, and is a Sounder for life.
Chance of happening: ~15%
After his brother joined Miami and Waibel joined the Sounders, Sean Henderson took over as the #3 man on the scouting side of soccer (think of the three pillars for soccer being First Team-Schmetzer, development-Bruner and scouting-S. Henderson). He also has Academy coaching experience and was the Seattle origin of the 3-4-2-1 (House) formation.
Henderson is also local and a Sounder from the USL era. He played for the USYNTs.
Chance of happening: ~15%
When Sigi Schmid was with us, and the Sounders, Kurt was a scout and occasional coach. He grew into a recruiting role, frequently for younger players signed to S2 or the backend of the roster. He joined the LA Galaxy in 2017, then Inter Miami — in both places as Technical Director. He’s now at Real Salt Lake in the same role.
Schmid’s connections to Seattle started with his father, but continued past that time and include launching S2 as the General Manager.
Chance of happening: ~5%
Brian Schmetzer said after the 2016 MLS Cup win that Ravi was as responsible for the victory as the assistant coaches. Since that time Ramineni moved up to a VP role with the Sounders but eventually left for a position with a firm that owns a few euro soccer teams. He’s now a free agent. Bringing in one of the greats in advanced analytics to run the soccer side of things would be revolutionary, albeit unlikely.
His connections to Seattle are strong — he worked for Microsoft before the Sounders.
Chance of happening: ~5% Though this change may make it more likely that there is a front office position open for him, just not as the GM.
There’s no indication that Hanauer wants to step back into the GM role. He left previously because it was the best way to build the Sounders forward from the successes that he, Schmetzer and Schmid built together from 2002 until 2016.
Now, as the majority owner, his focus is on big-picture things that combine soccer and business — World Cup 2026, Longacres, building out the development system.
Chance of happening: <1%
Leaving the family
The Seattle Sounders often speak of being a family. Many of their decisions about soccer and business can feel as if a previous connection is required for their hiring process. But that would ignore their most significant soccer hire of all time, Garth Lagerwey.
There are not a lot of strong options around MLS. The best guy is the guy they just lost.
Within MLS the person that’s most intriguing is Ernst Tanner, the man who has Philadelphia Union competing for trophies while also selling talent. Another name that once made sense, but doesn’t after his last gig is Ali Curtis. His work with Red Bulls was strong, but moving to a larger organization in TFC was a failure.
From outside of MLS there’s a world of possibilities, but most only make sense if they call Seattle. Liverpool builder Michael Edwards is one of those names. He has a bit of a U.S. background, created one of the greatest teams ever, but has also been in the sights of huge money. If he calls Seattle, answer the phone.
Chance of happening: ~10%