Adrian Hanauer turned Sounders FC into one of the dominant clubs in Major League Soccer. His team has won a Supporters’ Shield and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups, signing star players like Clint Dempsey and drawing the league’s highest attendance numbers in the process.
Now the Sounders are looking to take the next step, and that’s why Hanauer hired Garth Lagerwey to take over some of his duties.
Seattle appointed Lagerwey as its new General Manager and President of Soccer on Tuesday. Sounders FC’s second GM, Lagerwey led Real Salt Lake to the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of his seven years with the club. Hanauer will remain an owner and focus on the business operations of the club.
“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,” Hanauer said. “This decision will allow me to focus more time on strategy surrounding the long-term future of our club.”
Seven years ago, Lagerwey took over an RSL team that finished last in the Western Conference. Under Lagerwey the Claret and Cobalt immediately became one of the league’s top clubs, winning the MLS Cup in 2009 and sustaining success in the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
Lagerwey’s MLS Cup was won at CenturyLink Field in a penalty shootout against the LA Galaxy. Now that it is his home stadium, Lagerwey’s ultimate goal is to win another championship in front of the fans at CenturyLink Field.
“Winning the MLS Cup in Seattle was such a cool moment. This place has always been special to me since then,” Lagerwey said. “I never dreamed I would come back and this would be my home stadium, but I can’t think of a neater thing than trying to recreate the feeling we felt in 2009, walking off the field after the penalty shootout in front of those fans. To do that in front of a home crowd, I couldn’t imagine. That would be pretty neat.”
After signing defender Tyrone Mears last week, Sounders FC still has plenty of roster spots to fill for the coming season. In Salt Lake City, Lagerwey always succeeded in finding the right players for his squad. One example is Alvaro Saborio, who has 60 goals for RSL since joining the club four years ago. Lagerwey scouted the veteran forward while Saborio was playing in Switzerland.
Lagerwey comes to Seattle months before the inaugural season of Sounders FC 2, the club’s USL PRO team. Just as Hanauer did in Seattle, he recently helped RSL instill its own USL PRO team. Part of Lagerwey’s new role will be overseeing the Sounders FC Academy and S2.
“For anybody who is launching a USL team, you have to vertically integrate the club,” he said. “You have your First Team, and you have to push strategically to grow Sounders FC. You also have to, below that, integrate S2 and the Academy.
“At RSL, we had tremendous success with the youth academy coming from a talent base that isn’t as rich as the Washington State talent base. I am really excited about getting in and working with the Academy.”