SEATTLE, WASH. – Major League Soccer today announced that Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey has been named 2019 Sporting Executive of the Year. Lagerwey led Sounders FC to the 2019 MLS Cup title, the club’s second championship and third MLS Cup appearance since he came to Seattle prior to the 2015 season.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for this award, and I’d like to thank my family, as well as everyone at the organization that helped make this possible,” said Lagerwey. “For the past five years we’ve been building a system that not only ensures First Team success, but has also developed all other sporting aspects of the club to provide for our future in a sustainable way. I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished and look forward to what comes next.”
Under Lagerwey’s leadership, Sounders FC qualified for its league-record 11th consecutive postseason appearance in 2019 after finishing in second place in the Western Conference with a record of 16-10-8. After defeating FC Dallas and Lagerwey’s former club Real Salt Lake in the opening round rounds, the Rave Green took down Supporters’ Shield winner Los Angeles FC in the Western Conference Championship, before winning the championship rubber match versus Toronto FC in MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The two clubs had previously split the 2016 and 2017 league titles, both played at BMO Field.
Since Lagerwey joined the club from Real Salt Lake prior to the 2015 season, Sounders FC has accumulated a 77-57-36 MLS regular-season record, as well as a 14-4-2 record in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Never finishing lower than the fourth seed in the Western Conference under his management, Lagerwey has also led the Rave Green to five postseason appearances, three MLS Cup appearances and two league championships. Factoring in his time at Real Salt Lake from 2007-2014, Lagerwey has led his teams to six major finals in the past 12 years, including five MLS Cup appearances (three wins) as well as a spot the 2011 Concacaf Champions League final, the first MLS side to advance that far in the regional tournament.
Notable additions that Lagerwey has brought to the team include current Designated Players Nicolás Lodeiro (2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year) and Raúl Ruidíaz (2018 and 2019 Sounders FC Golden Boot winner), in addition to internationals Román Torres, Gustav Svensson, Víctor Rodríguez, Kelvin Leerdam, Kim Kee-hee, Xavier Arreaga, Joevin Jones, Nouhou, Jordy Delem and Brad Smith, while drafting or acquiring domestic players such as Jordan Morris (2016 MLS Rookie of the Year and 2019 Sounders FC MVP), Cristian Roldan (2017 Sounders FC MVP), Will Bruin and Harry Shipp. Over the course of the 2019 calendar year, Sounders FC saw 16 First Team players called up to their respective national teams.
The number of Homegrown players under Lagerwey has jumped from five to 13, including the signings of Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva this season, the latter of which became the third-youngest player in league history to appear in a competitive match. Sounders FC has also seen nine players from Tacoma Defiance, the club’s USL affiliate, signed to First Team contracts.
Additionally, the organization’s Academy program has seen unprecedented success, winning several major titles over the past few years, including the 2018 U-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship, the 2018 Generation Adidas Cup, a third-place finish in the 2017 U-19 U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship and winning the Youdan Trophy in England three times (2016-2018). This past year, Sounders FC became the first MLS academy side to win the Champions Division at the 2019 Generation adidas Cup, defeating international clubs Flamengo, Valencia, River Plate and West Ham United.
Sounders FC won the 2019 MLS Cup on November 10 with a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field, marking the club's second championship in four seasons. Seattle previously won the 2016 title before falling in 2017, both against Toronto at BMO Field. The crowd of 69,274 provided the largest standalone attendance for a sporting event in the history of CenturyLink Field, as well as the largest for a soccer match in the history of Washington state. The Rave Green begin the 2020 MLS regular season at home on Sunday, March 1 at 12:00 p.m. PT against Eastern Conference side Chicago Fire FC at CenturyLink Field.