On Thursday, Seattle Sounders FC named former Real Salt Lake General Manager Craig Waibel as their new Vice President of Soccer and Sporting Director. Waibel spent 12 years in MLS with Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose and Houston, winning four MLS Cups, then became an Assistant Coach for the Michigan Wolverines, Washington Huskies, and Real Salt Lake. This professional playing career came after a college career playing for UW as well. To add to the local ties, Waibel was born in Portland, Oregon and graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane. Following his coaching career at RSL, he then became Garth Lagerwey's replacement as General Manager in Utah as Lagerwey left to become the Seattle Sounders' GM, a role he still serves today.
Is that all of the local ties, you ask? Not even close. Waibel also played for the Spokane Shock and the Seattle Sounders in the late 1990s. He then returned to the USL Sounders on loan from Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002, playing under current Seattle Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. Waibel even played alongside Sean Henderson, a current member of the Sounders' front office and brother of Chris Henderson, Seattle's former Sporting Director who departed earlier this year for the same job with Inter Miami CF.
So, the natural questions are, what was the relationship between Waibel and Lagerwey like in Salt Lake? How was their relationship when both were General Managers? And how important were Waibel's local ties to being hired as Seattle's Sporting Director? All of those questions and many more, including his role with Sounders FC, work to come with the many young players in the organization, and vision for the club, were answered on Friday as both Waibel and Lagerwey joined the assembled media for an introductory press conference via Zoom. Watch the entirety of that below, including comments from Lagerwey on the status of Raul Ruidiaz, who returns to Seattle today and will begin training next week.