Despite the recent General Manager Vote in favor of retaining Garth Lagerwey, there was still uncertainty surrounding his future with the Seattle Sounders. With his contract set to run out at the end of the year, he had yet to agree a new deal and there was understandable concern among fans.
On Tuesday the concern became a reality, as Lagerwey was officially announced as the new President and CEO of Atlanta United. As much as it is a shame to see him leave Seattle, you can appreciate why he decided to move on.
The 49-year-old was at a point where he had achieved everything possible as his current level. As noted by J. Sam Jones of mlssoccer.com, he is the most successful front office executive in MLS history.
This success included a eight-year spell in Seattle, with the club going a combined 134-92-59 in MLS regular and postseason play. The Sounders won two MLS Cups in four final appearances.
Garth Lagerwey leaves his position as Seattle Sounders' General Manager and President of Soccer, to take on a bigger challenge as President and CEO of Atlanta United.
Most impressive of all, the Rave Green become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League. They are one of the most successful clubs in MLS history, and Lagerwey is a significant reason why.
Given the Elmhurst, Illinois native's success, his desire to push himself further and higher should be applauded. Many people in life are happy to rest on their laurels and -- in some cases -- live off their past achievements.
Lagerwey however wants more, and in this respect the Atlanta job certainly makes sense. He will have more control on both the sport and business side of things within the franchise.
There was never a suggestion of any animosity between Lagerwey and the Sounders. As per the club's communications team, he said:
"It’s no exaggeration to say that the past eight years in Seattle have been life-changing for me and my family. I’m so grateful to the entire Sounders community for welcoming us with open arms and for supporting the club through these amazing years. Earlier this season, we achieved immortality together by becoming the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League. I will never forget that moment in front of a record-setting crowd, along with the MLS Cups we captured in 2016 and 2019. But more than anything, I’ll remember the people surrounding this club. There is a spirit to this place that is distinct, from the players, to the staff and Sounders fans, the culture of the Puget Sound soccer community is something I’ll always think of fondly. Thank you to Adrian Hanauer for this opportunity, it was a privilege to be a part of the Sounders organization."
Who takes over from Lagerwey?
Of course with Lagerwey moving on, the question now turns to who replaces him? As much as there was speculation within recent months about him leaving, the overall (mistaken) belief was that he would remain in Seattle.
As per Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart, Craig Waibel makes a lot of sense. He previously played for the Sounders and is their current Sporting Director.
Whoever does take over from Lagerwey, they will be in an excellent situation and given every opportunity to succeed. As per soundersfc.com, majority owner Adrian Hanauer said:
"Our club has a proud winning tradition on the field and a commitment to serving the community off of it. Our next leader on the soccer side of the organization will further that mission, and the process of filling this key role is already underway. While change is never easy, I’m proud of our organization’s stability and consistency. We have tremendously talented people working across Sounders FC that help us deliver on the field and in the community, and we’re going to empower and trust those individuals during this time of transition."
There was never really going to be a good time for Lagerwey to leave. However, if nothing else, he leaves the club in a good position with a strong nucleus of players to help the Sounders contend next season.
Who would you like to see replace Lagerwey as General Manager and President of Soccer? Further, how confident are you that the Seattle Sounders will continue to be consistently successful in the next few years? Let us know in the comments section below.