Nov 30, 2022 - Sports

Atlanta United welcomes new president and CEO Garth Lagerwey

A man in a suit poses with another man while he holds a scarf that says "Atlanta United"

Garth Lagerwey, left, and Steve Cannon, the CEO of AMB Sports and Entertainment, at Tuesday's press conference. Photo: Courtesy of Atlanta United

As soccer fans across the city pack bars and record numbers of viewers tune in to the World Cup, Atlanta United is bringing on a new top executive to steer an organization that's lost its footing in recent seasons.

Yes, but: Don't expect any changes overnight from the team's new president and CEO, Garth Lagerwey — the second in the organization's history.

Why it matters: After a stunning start in the MLS, Atlanta United has failed to reach the playoffs in two of the past three seasons, hired and fired coaches, and faced internal criticism, including from Josef Martinez, who's basically reached Atlanta sainthood status.

  • As the team’s chief executive Lagerwey will oversee talent and business decisions, all under the gaze of a devoted fanbase. No pressure!

Catch up quick: Lagerwey leaves a GM job with the Seattle Sounders to take over for Darren Eales, who became the fan-friendly front-office face of the team and parlayed his success at AUFC into the top job at Newcastle in his native England.

Trivia: Lagerwey, who played goalkeeper in the MLS and worked as a lawyer before his GM career, said he played with Eales at lower-level U.S. club Hampton Roads Mariners.

By the numbers: Over the course of 15 years at Seattle and Real Salt Lake, Lagerwey oversaw teams that won three MLS Cups, packed stands and posted winning seasons.

Why he left: Lagerwey enjoyed his time at Seattle, he added, but the GM and president of soccer job duties focused on the talent on the pitch. The Atlanta job is a step up professionally.

The appeal: Atlanta United has a passionate fanbase, a strong and respected brand, and ample resources thanks to team owner Arthur Blank, Lagerwey said at his first Atlanta United press conference on Tuesday.

What's next: A listening tour with key personnel and lots of learning. Before the 2023 season starts in February, he’ll have to make decisions on executives and talents of players like Martinez.


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