Garth Lagerwey has been named the MLS Sporting Executive of the Year, it was announced on Monday. This is just the second time the award has been given out after Peter Vermes won the first one following the 2018 season.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for this award, and I’d like to thank my family, as well as everyone at the organization that helped make this possible,” Lagerwey said in a team release. “For the past five years we’ve been building a system that not only ensures First Team success, but has also developed all other sporting aspects of the club to provide for our future in a sustainable way. I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished and look forward to what comes next.”
Unlike many of the other league awards, this one is voted on only by the 24 chief soccer operators as opposed to media or other outside observers. Each team’s top soccer decision maker casts a ballot for someone other than themselves. Lagerwey said his vote went to LAFC’s John Thorrington, for instance. Also unlike awards like coach of the year, Lagerwey indicated this one is meant to look at a bigger picture.
The Sounders made 10 signings this year, but just two of those players — Xavier Arreaga and Joevin Jones — played in MLS Cup. Rather, the award seems to recognize the work that Lagerwey has done in assembling the roster since taking over after the 2014 season and building up the entire organization. Stefan Frei is currently the only player remaining on the roster who Lagerwey did not sign and the club now has a fully integrated academy and USL team under its banner.
“We were active in our tinkering, but it was tinkering around the margins,” Lagerwey told Sounder at Heart about last year’s signings. “Arreaga will be a foundational piece, we hope, but it’s definitely a body of work. The coach of the year is meant to reward that season, but this is a recognition that we’ve done some things well over a period of time.”