Seattle Sounders Hiring Garth Lagerwey Could Be Their Biggest Offseason Signing

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2014


The Seattle Sounders have reportedly landed one of the top free agents in MLS. Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey will join the Sounders, per ESPN's Taylor Twellman (h/t MLSSoccer.com) for the 2015 season. If this comes to fruition, it will be a massive coup for Seattle.

The details of Lagerwey's deal with the Sounders, as well as his official title, are unknown at this point, per Brian Straus of Sports Illustrated. Straus claims that he'd replace Adrian Hanauer, who has been the club's sole GM since their inception.

In fact, it appears as if Hanauer wants Lagerwey because he's trying to find a new stadium for the Sounders, according to Twellman (h/t Jeremiah Oshan of Sounder at Heart).

Hanauer has done fantastic work in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is arguably the soccer hotbed of the United States. It also helps when the professional team never misses the playoffs and has won five major trophies.

However, Lagerwey has been equally, if not, more impressive as a general manager. Real Salt Lake has won an MLS Cup and the club is the only side from the U.S. to reach a CONCACAF Champions League final.

Hanauer, right, has had some tumultuous moments, but he's accomplished a lot for soccer in Seattle.
Hanauer, right, has had some tumultuous moments, but he's accomplished a lot for soccer in Seattle.Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
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RSL is also a model of consistency with regard to playoff appearances. Salt Lake has qualified for the postseason in seven straight seasons. 

Considering how much turnover the club goes through every winter, it's an even bigger accomplishment for RSL to be competing with the Sounders and LA Galaxy. Salt Lake has lost Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave and Will Johnson over the last couple of years, but Lagerwey's side has stayed competitive.

RSL collectively spent just over $4 million in guaranteed compensation for players, according to the September salaries from the MLS Players Union. Lagerwey's future team splashed over $11.5 million in the same category.

The Sounders' Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey skew the numbers, but Salt Lake doesn't have any big-name designated players. The highest-paid member of the squad is Alvaro Saborio at just over $453,000.

If Lagerwey signs with the Sounders, he'll have significantly greater resources available, but the pressure will be rapidly higher in Seattle, compared to Sandy, Utah.

Real Salt Lake has accomplished things that no other MLS club has done.
Real Salt Lake has accomplished things that no other MLS club has done.STEVE C WILSON/Associated Press

However, Lagerwey is someone the Sounders desperately need. Hanauer did a great job in attracting quality players like Dempsey, and stalwart Osvaldo Alonso to DP contracts and acquiring veterans such as Chad Marshall, to help boost the team. On the other hand, Lagerwey would be a savvy spender in the market.

The Sounders will lose DeAndre Yedlin to Tottenham Hotspur, and the squad is smaller after the team declined options on eight players earlier this month. Lagerwey can come in, help the club find some diamonds in the rough and bring in homegrown talents to save cap space.

With all of the money that ownership spends, it's always tough to add depth when a minority of the squad occupies most of the cap. Lagerwey built a championship team with RSL who had some good options on the bench in most games, yet spent a fraction of Seattle's money.

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 30:  Brad Evans #3 of the Seattle Sounders FC celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the Western Conference Final at CenturyLink Field on November 30, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Phot
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Economy of spending is Lagerwey's best attribute. Even if he doesn't become a technical director or vice president, the RSL man is arguably the best general manager in MLS with a keen eye for talent.

This is exhibited by his acquisition of Saborio, someone Lagerwey scouted and signed while playing for FC Sion in Switzerland. The Costa Rican has scored 60 goals in 113 MLS regular-season matches since joining the club in 2010.

Lagerwey can execute similar deals with the same effect with the Sounders and make them an even bigger threat in MLS.

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