BY SPNW Staff 01:38PM 01/06/2015

Sounders hire RSL’s Garth Lagerwey as GM

Garth Lagerway is the new Sounders general manager, succeeding Adrian Hanauer. / Real Salt Lake

The Sounders Tuesday appointed Garth Lagerwey, who spent the past seven seasons with Real Salt Lake, as general manager and president of soccer. Lagerwey built the RSL team that won the 2009 MLS Cup and reached the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final. Lagerwey takes over for former GM Adrian Hanauer, who will shift his focus to the club’s business operations.

“I always said that if the best general manager was available, I would hire that person to replace me. I believe that Garth is that man,” said Hanauer, who also is a minority owner. “This decision will allow me to focus more time on strategy surrounding the long-term future of our club.

“Sounders FC is a unique club with rich history and traditions, rooted in the notion of democracy in sports and a strong bond with our fans. In Garth, we have found someone who understands and respects these traditions, and is capable of furthering our on-field success.”

Lagerwey will oversee all soccer operations, including technical staff management, player personnel and transactions, scouting and the oversight of S2 and the Sounders FC Academy system. As Hanauer before him, Lagerwey assumes a position that is subject to fan vote every four years as part of the Sounders FC Alliance Charter.

“I’m really excited to join Sounders FC,” said Lagerwey. “I understand in coming here, I am inheriting a trust, and in many ways I’m now a steward of that trust. It’s not merely Sounders since 2009, it’s Sounders since 1974. I am humbled by that responsibility and will do my best to live up to those communal expectations in managing Sounders FC as a generational entity that has been an integral part of people’s lives for 40 years.”

Lagerwey was hired as GM of Real Salt Lake Sept. 19, 2007. He had an immediate effect, guiding a team that finished last in the Western Conference in 2007 to seven postseason appearances from 2008-14.

Under his leadership, RSL accumulated a 101-68-63 record in seven seasons, winning the 2009 MLS Cup and earning another Cup appearance in 2013, in addition to a berth in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final.

RSL also became the first MLS club to finish runner-up in the CONCACAF Champions League, falling to Liga MX side Monterrey in the 2010-11 tournament final.

Lagerwey has worked as an attorney in Washington D.C. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, where he played collegiate soccer, and a law degree from Georgetown University.

The Chicago native spent five seasons in MLS as a goalkeeper from 1996-2000 for the Kansas City Wizards, Dallas Burn and Miami Fusion. He made 51 career appearances and 46 starts, accumulating a 25-22-0 record.


  • jafabian

    Bleacher Report did a write up that Hanauer wants to try to build support for the club to get a soccer specific facility, feeling that they’re second to the Seahawks at CenturyLink. I undrestand the attraction to that train of thought as more teams are going that route but I think Sounders fans are pretty happy with the way things are.

    Looking forward to seeing how Lagerwey works. He built a solid club in Salt Lake. It’ll be interesting to see if he brings in any players from there.

    • art thiel

      That is a likely task for Hanauer. The team is pissed about the turf and the second-citizen status. But a new building close downtown is would be hugely expensive and unlikely to get public funding. Most, but not all, of the MLS suburban locations have had fan backlash.

  • Kirkland

    Absolutely stunned hat RSL let Lagerway away. He did outstanding work in turning an expansion laughingstock into one of MLS’s model franchises, and in a decidedly small market too.

    Java, many think the Sounders SSS feeler is to pressure the Seahawks/CLink to get better turf, if not grass. IMO, the NBA/NHL arena should be the first priority.

    • jafabian

      As I recall, they have some of the best turf around. Paul Allen will only have the best. I can see the club preferring grass but that isn’t realistic given the environment in the Pacific NW. Even some grade schools have eschewed their grass fields for FieldTurf.

      • RadioGuy

        Some of the best turf around? Can’t agree. Watching matches on TV, the Clink turf looks patchy and worn out, sort of like at the Trop in Tampa Bay.
        If the Sounders are willing to pay for their own soccer-specific stadium, more power to them, but how often does that happen? Best to keep lobbying for a turf upgrade at the CLink.

        I’m with Kirkland: The arena issue needs to be dealt with first but nothing’s happened since the EIS draft came out in August.

        • jafabian

          Have you walked on it? Are you aware of the difference between FieldTurf and AstroTurf? Allen won’t risk a cheap turf for the Seahawks. I don’t think what you see on TV is the best way to judge the quality of the field. That’s like saying Beth’s Cafe is a lousy restaurant based on the appearance of the building.

          • RadioGuy

            Of course I know the difference between FieldTurf and AstroTurf, which was like that cheap fake-grass carpeting we used to have on our back patio when I was a kid. Maybe the playing surface really is terrific, but it looks worn out on TV.

            And I know there won’t be any public money for a soccer stadium inside Seattle, Art. Initiative 91 was one of the few lucid moments voters have had there recently. The turf obviously isn’t their main issue (if 67,000 people are willing to pay $$$ to watch an MLS match against Portland, what do they really care what the field looks like?), but control of parking and concessions revenue probably is.

        • art thiel

          There will be no public funds for the soccer stadium within the city limits. Guaranteed.

      • art thiel

        The turf has worn down. Players complain even about the best turf because the ball behaves differently on fake stuff, and is harder on the legs.

    • art thiel

      They’ve always wanted grass, and will never get it in the Seahawks home (see evi’s stadium).

      I’m sure RSL couldn’t match Sounders money.