Ezra Hendrickson is going from the top level of United States soccer to the third — and he’s happy about it.
After serving six seasons as an assistant under head coach Sigi Schmid with Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer, Hendrickson was introduced Thursday as the first coach of S2, the Sounders’ USL Pro development team that will begin play next season.
“I just want to say thanks to the Sounders organization for having the trust and the confidence in me to put me in charge of what I think is an integral part of any club,” Hendrickson said. “I think player development is right up there with player recruitment, player acquisition and ultimately player selection to be successful. I think in just six years we’ve become the top team both on and off the field, and I think having the proper development of young kids will go a long way in ensuring that it’s a sustainable success.”
Hendrickson played under Schmid at Los Angeles and Columbus. After his 14-year professional playing career ended in 2008, he followed Schmid to Seattle as part of the 2009 expansion team’s staff. In 2011, he assumed responsibility for coaching the Sounders’ MLS Reserve team, leading them to a 19-13-7 record over four seasons.
Sounders FC announced Oct. 14 that it would replace the reserves with a USL Pro team in 2015. After considering coaching candidates from inside and outside the organization, Hendrickson was selected.
“Ezra knows what I want, what I’m looking for,” Schmid said. “… Being able to provide players for the next level is very important, but you can’t provide players for the next level unless you also win some games. … I feel very confident and happy with Ezra being the choice, because I feel that establishes good continuity from S2 to Sounders.”
Schmid said he has a short list of candidates to fill Hendrickson’s place on the MLS staff, alongside first assistant Brian Schmetzer.
Sounders FC will be off Friday through Sunday before returning to work Monday for its Western Conference final series against Los Angeles, which begins Nov. 23 in Carson, California. … General manager Adrian Hanauer indicated that extra sections of CenturyLink Field will be opened for the Nov. 30 second-leg match against the Galaxy. However, he said the club is assessing demand before deciding how much of the stadium to open. … Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin is with the U.S. national team for its friendly with Colombia in London on Friday. The national team also plays Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday, but Schmid said indicated Yedlin might return to Seattle before that one. … Thursday marked the seven-year anniversary of the MLS granting an expansion franchise to Seattle. “It’s been a great ride,” Hanauer said. “We have lots of success ahead if us, and I’ve never been more bullish on our league and the organization. So lots of good things in store for the next seven years.”