Atlanta United brings in one of the most successful executives in MLS history to lead the club
Atlanta United announced today that former Seattle Sounders chief executive Garth Lagerwey will lead the club as president and chief executive officer. The club has been working to fill the position since Lagerwey’s predecessor Darren Eales left the club this August.
The club said Lagerwey has signed a multi-year contract and will assume leadership of Atlanta United, Atlanta United 2 and the Atlanta United Academy effective today.
“Our foundational goal from day one in Major League Soccer has been for Atlanta United to be a contender for MLS Cup each year, so we set out to find a leader with deep knowledge and experience in the league and a proven track record of success,” said AMBSE CEO, Steve Cannon.
“We have certainly found that leader in Garth Lagerwey and could not be more thrilled to have him take the reins of our team. His body of work in Seattle and Salt Lake City speaks for itself. His experience as a player in the league and time as an executive who has developed a keen understanding of both the soccer and business sides of running an organization made him the perfect fit as we move forward with Atlanta United.”
Lagerwey comes to Atlanta after a very successful run in Seattle where he led the Sounders to the 2022 Concacaf Champions League title earlier this year, as well as MLS Cup championships in 2019 and 2016 and made the MLS Cup final on two other occasions. His Sounders team also reached the Leagues Cup Final in 2021.
Before his move to Seattle, Lagerwey served as general manager and senior vice president of soccer operations for MLS’s Real Salt Lake, guiding the team to its lone MLS title in 2009 and one other appearance in the MLS Cup final. His Salt Lake teams also reached the US Open Cup final in 2013 and in 2011 RSL became the first MLS team to reach the Concacaf Champions League Final.
On the strength of Seattle winning the Concacaf Champions League, Lagerwey was selected as Best Executive at the 2022 World Football Summit. He was named MLS’s Sporting Executive of the Year at the conclusion of Seattle’s 2019 MLS Cup championship season and has served as co-chair of the MLS Chief Soccer Officer Committee since 2018. The academies he’s overseen in Seattle and Salt Lake have won multiple championships and his MLS clubs have qualified for the playoffs with four different head coaches and earned 24 home playoff matches. The teams he led qualified for the MLS Playoffs a remarkable 14 seasons in a row from 2008-2021.
“I see the opportunity to lead Atlanta United as a dream come true for me,” said Lagerwey. “The opportunity to take on the chief executive role at a club with incredible ownership, unmatched resources and infrastructure, and the amazing fan support this club has enjoyed from the start, all made this move the perfect next step in my career. Honestly, it’s the chance of a lifetime and I could not be more excited to get to Atlanta and get to work.”
And finally, team owner Arthur Blank said in his statement: “I have enjoyed getting to know Garth through this process and it has become obvious why success has followed him throughout his career. We expect to be a championship caliber team on and off the pitch every year and I’m confident Garth is the right leader to build on a very strong foundation and help deliver our city and fans what we’ve promised – more trophies and a club they will always be proud to have represent this community.”
This announcement represents a massive day in Atlanta United’s history. Lagerwey is known for his roster-building success, having a hands-on approach, and a savvy ability to navigate MLS rules and regulations. He’s also, by all accounts, approachable to fans and the media, so we look forward to hearing more from Lagerwey when he speaks more about his plans after the Thanksgiving holiday.