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Craig Waibel officially hired as Sounders GM

Waibel joined the Sounders in 2021 and also succeeded Garth Lagerwey as GM at Real Salt Lake in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Sounders FC Communications

Craig Waibel has been named Garth Lagerwey’s successor, again.

The Seattle Sounders made the news official on Wednesday ahead of a press conference planned for later in the day. Waibel will carry the title of general manager and chief soccer officer, but Lagerwey’s “president of soccer” role will apparently be left unfilled. It is expected that there will be some re-organization on the soccer side to spread out some of Lagerwey’s other responsibilities.

“I am excited to get to work,” Waibel said in a team release. “This is a special organization and I embrace the high expectations that this club has of itself. The Sounders community means a great deal to me. This was the club that drafted me as a young man, it’s where I made my professional debut, and as a Spokane native I fully understand the history and civic pride that runs so deep in this region.

“I can’t thank Adrian [Hanauer] enough for the opportunity and his confidence in my stewardship. Lastly, I couldn’t be happier to continue to work with Coach Schmetzer and help bring more trophies to Seattle.”

Coincidentally, this is the second time Waibel has succeeded Lagerwey as an MLS general manager. When Lagerwey left Real Salt Lake to join the Sounders before the 2015 season, Waibel was his replacement. Waibel served in that role from 2015-2019 before joining the Sounders as Chris Henderson’s replacement in 2021.

Waibel is just the third general manager in the Sounders’ MLS history, following Hanauer (2009-14) and Lagerwey (2015-22). During his time as Lagerwey’s second-in-command on the technical side, he was tasked with scouting, player identification, player management and overseeing the club’s developmental system.

“We saw what he accomplished in Salt Lake before joining our club, and his impact since arriving has been tangible,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said in a team release. “He’s shown to be a great fit within our organization and is well-respected amongst the staff. I’d like to wish Craig a heartfelt congratulations on the new role, and I’m eager to continue working with him and building the club.”

While at RSL, Waibel not only fielded consistently competitive teams — they made the playoffs in three of his five seasons — but they did so while assembling a roster on a tight budget and relying heavily on Homegrown Players. In 2018 and 2019, RSL amassed over first-team 10,000 minutes for players who previously played in their academy. Waibel also oversaw the launch of RSL’s USL affiliate and guided the academy’s move from Arizona to Utah.

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