Chris Henderson Helped Take
U.S. National Team to New Heights
WASHINGTON YOUTH SOCCER CELEBRATES THE U.S. SOCCER CENTENNIAL BY HIGHLIGHTING THE EMERALD STATERS WHO HAVE IMPACTED THE AMERICAN GAME
Go back to just about any key point in the development of soccer in the United States over the last quarter century, and you’ll find Chris Henderson.
The emergence of the U.S. Men’s National Team in the 1990s? You bet.
The debut of Major League Soccer in 1996? Yep.
The inaugural game in 2009 for Seattle Sounders FC — also known as the day professional soccer in the United States was taken to a new level? There he is, right next to Sigi Schmid, high-fiving after an incredible win.
Of course, it’s no coincidence that Henderson has been present at so many of the key moments in U.S. Soccer history — in contrast, his involvement has played a key role in making each of these moments possible.
The Everett native was one of the most sought-after prospects on the West Coast in the late 1980s, having cut his teeth in Washington Youth Soccer leagues and high-school tournaments across the state — often trying to score against his future U.S. Soccer teammate, Kasey Keller. Keller and Henderson led the U.S. U-20 National Team to a program-best bronze medal at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship, then teamed up to take the U.S. Men’s National Team to new heights in the 1990s.
The youngest member of the 1990 FIFA World Cup squad at age 19, Henderson’s decade on the U.S. National Team was one of the most significant in U.S. history, helping turn the United States into a legitimate soccer power. The talented midfielder earned 79 caps for the United States from 1989-2001, and led the U.S. at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
When U.S. Soccer sought to launch a professional league on home turf, Henderson was once again called in to play a role, joining the Colorado Rapids for Major League Soccer’s debut season in 1996. Henderson was named MVP of the Rapids that year and spent the next decade helping to establish the MLS brand, scoring 51 goals for five different MLS teams.
Since retiring from the sport in 2006, Henderson has been finding other ways to contribute — first as a coach with the Kansas City Wizards, and, since 2008, as the Technical Director (now Sporting Director) of his hometown Seattle Sounders FC. For Henderson, a career that has taken him across the globe has come full-circle.
"It was easy to be able to come home and live where I want to live and be where family is and be with this amazing organization," he said. “It’s been great.”