Grant Wahl has a rather bold plan to help fix U.S. Soccer’s structural problems: Replace USSF President Sunil Gulati with USWNT legend Julie Foudy and hire a general manager to oversee the more technical sides of the program. His top candidate for the GM position? None other than current Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey.
The best candidate in my opinion would be Garth Lagerwey, the whipsmart Seattle Sounders GM (and former MLS goalkeeper) who has become the Theo Epstein of MLS, bringing championships to Seattle and Salt Lake not long after his arrival. Few people in the U.S. soccer community know the development landscape better than Lagerwey, who has shown the diligence and the smarts to excel in that area.
This is, of course, a bit of a non-issue at the moment being as U.S. Soccer has no GM. Wahl would like that to change, though, and sees the GM working hand-in-hand with the president to control the budgets and “dictate strategy in the key area of player development.” This would presumably be a broader, more overarching position, than the Technical Director title that Jurgen Klinsmann had added to his title shortly before the 2014 World Cup. More relevantly, though, it would de-couple that position from the head coach of the senior men’s national team, who should probably be focused more on on-field performance than on what’s going on in other parts of the program. Although Wahl doesn’t fully articulate this point, there’s also an implication that the GM would oversee the women’s side of the program as well.
I’m honestly not sure if Lagerwey is the best hire for this position, but conceptually it does make a lot of sense. One area that U.S. Soccer seems to be struggling is having anything like a unified vision. There should be full-time people in place to help make that happen.