One of the top priorities of Sounders 2, the Major League Soccer club’s USL-Pro affiliate set to debut next season, is to build continuity, to provide a bridge from the academy to the senior team.
In keeping with that theme, the club didn’t have to look far to find its coach.
Ezra Hendrickson, who for the past six seasons has been a Sounders assistant and reserve-league coach, was unveiled as the minor league team’s first head coach Thursday after training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
“We considered it,” Sounders owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer said of looking outside the organization. “We threw some candidates on paper and had discussions internally, but we ultimately decided that the right decision for a whole lot of decisions was to pick Ezra.
“He knows the culture, the brand, of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Hendrickson came to the Sounders following a 14-year professional career, including 12 seasons in Major League Soccer and eight alongside Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. The three-time MLS Cup champion racked up a 19-13-7 record as the head coach of the Sounder reserves, including a West Division championship 2011.
For Hendrickson, the jump to Sounders 2 was a natural progression.
“I spoke with (owner and general manager) Adrian (Hanauer) months ago and told him this was something I really wanted to do, that I could really help the organization,” Hendrickson said.
“I think player development is right up there with player recruitment, player acquisition and, ultimately, player selection to be successful. In just six years, we’ve become the top team both on and off the field. Proper development will go a long way to ensure that it’s a sustainable success.”