ATLANTA, GEORGIA—The appointment of Garth Lagerwey as president and CEO of Atlanta United FC was made public today. After signing a multi-year contract, Lagerwey, who most recently served as general manager and president of soccer for Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders, will take over as head of Atlanta United, Atlanta United 2, and the Atlanta United Academy right away.
After leading the Sounders to the 2022 Concacaf Champions League victory earlier this year, MLS Cup victories in 2019 and 2016, and two more appearances in the MLS Cup final, Lagerwey left Seattle for Atlanta. In 2021, his Sounders squad again advanced to the League Cup Final.
Before relocating to Seattle, Lagerwey was Real Salt Lake’s general manager and senior vice president of soccer operations. He helped the team win its lone MLS championship in 2009 and make two additional trips to the MLS Cup final. His Salt Lake squads also made it to the US Open Cup final in 2013 and the Concacaf Champions League Final in 2011 with RSL, the first MLS team to do it.
Lagerwey spent five MLS seasons as a goalkeeper with the Kansas City Wizards, Dallas Burn, and Miami Fusion after receiving his degree from Duke University in 1994. Later, in 2004, he completed his Juris Doctorate at Georgetown School of Law. “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,” Cannon added.
Seattle’s Concacaf Champions League victory helped Lagerwey receive the Best Executive award at the 2022 World Football Summit. After Seattle’s 2019 MLS Cup title season, he was voted the league’s sporting executive of the year. He has also co-chaired the MLS Chief Soccer Officer Committee since 2018. His MLS clubs qualified for the playoffs with four head coaches and earned 24 home playoff games. The academies he oversaw in Seattle and Salt Lake won many titles. From 2008 through 2021, the teams he coached qualified for the MLS Playoffs for 14 seasons in a row.
“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 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,” Lagerway added.
Elmhurst, Illinois native Lagerwey and his wife Hilary are the parents of three sons (Bennett, Finn, and Sam). Tim Goodly, the chief human resources officer at Cannon and AMBSE, led the search with Sportsology Group, a contracted search firm. “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 solid foundation and help deliver our city and fans what we’ve promised – more trophies and a club they will always be proud to have represented this community,” Atlanta United owner Arthur M. Blank said.