Being a General Manager in MLS is about a few things. There is managing the roster budget, the coaching staff, the scouting department and having a network of agents and scouts with which to discuss potential signings. Seattle Sounders FC have three of those - outgoing GM Adrian Hanauer, new President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey and Sporting Director (some team's GM soon probably) Chris Henderson. Those three need to figure out how to work together.
Initial results are good.
One of the strengths that will come out over the next few transfer windows is that everyone involved with talent evaluation has different areas of expertise. Kurt Schmid knows college and international U20s. Sigi Schmid has connections in Europe. Brian Schmetzer knows the lower divisions quite well. Chris Henderson knows the league and an expanding sphere of global talent. Garth Lagerwey adds new depth to that scouting Rolodex.
"I wouldn't call it radically different, but we're stronger in different parts of the world," Lagerwey said after the first practice of 2015. "RSL signed dozens of Latin American players. You've also signed Latin American players here, but maybe not as many. So I would say that maybe I know a few more folks there, but the Sounders to be fair know a lot more folks than I did in Europe. You would expect that with Sigi's background."
Henderson agreed when talking to Sounder at Heart, "It's great to have Garth in because he brings in some other contacts. Garth was in the league for four or five years so a lot of the same relationships he had with teammates you have in a different way. There's a couple guys who he was teammates with before that are in spots and I didn't know as well. We kind of play off each other. It's just cross referencing. I'll call my guy, he'll call his. We get two different opinions. In just this short period of time I could see that this is going to work really well. I think the balance that we have together, and the respect from our histories together I think is going to work really well."
It's going to take time. One of the things that Lagerwey will need to do while developing his three-to-five-year plan is get to know what Seattle's coaching staff expects of player roles. Garth noted the different playing styles moving from Salt Lake to the Sounders.
"With RSL you are effectively playing with four central midfielders. With Sounders you are using wingers, at least far more often than RSL ever did, which gives you slightly different job descriptions for your back four, specifically the outside backs and what's asked of them."
From developing that knowledge while watching practices and talking to a coaching staff that continues to grow he will not just get a player profile, but know how the profile fits into Sounders FC or S2.
That will take time. He is developing new working relationships with a multiple trophy winnings staff that has more resources than just about any in MLS. His imprint will not be immediate, because his education on what's working will not be quick. Previously he fixed a broken team and system, now he needs to refine and optimize one that is consistently good, aiming for great.
Having the contact list of a former GM, a future GM and a European style football manager (Sigi) on hand to co-ordinate with his seven years of contacts in the role will be a valued asset for Seattle Sounders FC. The impact will be felt in the future.
"But I think the strength of that is going to come over the next months and years as opposed to week one or week two when we have here with Sounders a very, very good team that won two titles last year."
The Primary Transfer Window opens in mid-February and closes in early May. The USSF Secondary Transfer Window is from early July to early August. So while the roster currently has a few places for small improvements the long term impact of Garth Lagerwey, President of Soccer is going to be felt some time from now.