RENTON — An overwhelming majority of Seattle Sounders season-ticket holders voted to retain General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey, the club revealed at its Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday. Although only 31.4% of eligible voters actually cast a ballot — failing to reach the 40% threshold that would have made a vote binding — that 90% of them effectively backed the job Lagerwey was doing was some cause for celebration.
“It is special and it’s meaningful,” Lagerwey told reporters about his margin for victory. “The reason it works is because the fans appreciate it. It’s this virtuous cycle where we have owners that are willing to invest the profits back into the team to make us better and the fans keep coming and the fans keep spending their money and that’s why you have 70,000 people.
“It’s an incredibly special experience. It means a lot to have people say they want you here and say you’re doing a good job.”
It’s not hard to see why fans gave him such a resounding stamp of approval. Since being hired before the start of the 2015 season, the Sounders have gone 117-87-56 in the regular season and 17-5-3 in the playoffs. They’ve advanced to four MLS Cup finals, won two of them and gone to a Leagues Cup final. Most notably, they also became the first MLS team to win Concacaf Champions League earlier this year. They’ve done all of this while also building up the Sounders Academy to the point that is both winning trophies and producing first-team players.
That this vote came the same year the Sounders missed the playoffs for the first time in their 13-year MLS history, was perhaps indicative of a general appreciation for the state of the organization.
“It’s a culture we’ve built and people way before me have been building that,” Lagerwey said. “Adrian [Hanauer] built a great foundation before I ever came here. I don’t think the vote is about me, it’s about the organization.
“But it’s a good pressure test. Is the organization healthy? Do the fans feel like they’re getting good value for their money? When you see 90% approval, I think that’s a good reflection that we’re doing something right.”
Despite the positive vibes and generally good mood, Lagerwey’s return for 2023 and beyond is not yet assured. Lagerwey’s contract is due to run out at the end of the year and he has not yet finalized a new contract. There are several jobs around MLS that have opened up and could potentially be enticing.
“It’s been a really special run,” Lagerwey said. “I’m looking forward to the future. We still need to hammer out some details, but either way I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given, hopeful for the future and I feel like we’ve set up the team to be successful next year.”
Notes: Lagerwey received 87.3% of the retention vote in 2018 when 37.2% of eligible voters cast a ballot. In 2012, 96.3% voted to retain Adrian Hanauer as the GM with 41.6% casting a ballot.