The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionBy Doug Roberson

Twenty years ago, Garth Lagerwey and Darren Eales were teammates on the Hampton Roads Mariners soccer team.

Lagerwey was the goalie; Eales the striker.

Now, they are both running soccer teams.

Lagerwey is the general manager of Real Salt Lake. Eales was recently hired as the president of Atlanta’s MLS team, which will begin play in 2017.

“We were laughing the other day, who would have thought two knuckleheads would both wind up running soccer teams?” Lagerwey said. “It’s great to see his success and see him get a great opportunity.”

Eales hasn’t given his first interview since being hired by Arthur Blank to run his expansion MLS team. Lagerwey was able to fill in a few more of the blanks.

“He’s a really smart guy; Atlanta’s got a real winner,” Lagerwey said. “He’s as smart a guy I met at any time in my soccer path.”

Lagerwey would know. Not only were they teammates, but there were roommates, sharing a place in the house of the Mariners’ owner, about 20 minutes from the beach.

They also took Eales’ convertible on a cross-country trip to Lagerwey’s hometown of Chicago. If you don’t get to know somebody after being cooped up in a car with them, you’ll never get to know them.

Lagerwey said that Eales loves America. Eales and his wife, who is an American, are expecting twins. Lagerwey declined to share any stories from their time in Hampton Roads, or on that trip, joking they weren’t suitable for print.

But Lagerwey said Eales’ career path speaks for itself: Eales eventually left the U.S. to study law in his hometown of Cambridge, England. He passed the bar and eventually became general counsel at West Bromwich Albion, before joining Tottenham Hotspur. He has served as that club’s director since 2010, where he has helped oversee the rise of a club determined to maintain financial discipline while also fighting for a Premier League title.

“He will have a breadth of experiences that will prepare him well for the job,” Lagerwey said.

They have spoken many times in the past year, though Lagerwey said they didn’t discuss the job in Atlanta.

They did discuss how MLS operates, which is different than every other soccer league in the world, and will be obviously important for Eales to learn as he builds the Atlanta franchise and roster.

He’s clever,” Lagerwey said. “He can think analytically. He’s able to look at all sides of an issue.”

MLS new logo

MLS unveiled its new logo last week.

The logo is shaped like a shield, with MLS and three stars in upper left corner, a slash that extends down the middle from the upper right to lower left, where it goes through the shield so that it appears like a tail, and an open space in the lower right corner.

The colors of the logo can be customized to fit every team in the league when worn on their jerseys.

The new logo got mixed reactions. Alexi Lalas and Brad Davis took to twitter to express their questions, including the timing.

Other have gone on satellite radio shows like Counter Attack to ask, “why the kickstand?” referring to the tail coming out of the shield.

Barring a change, this will be one of the logos on the jerseys worn by Atlanta’s team in MLS.

 

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