If there was any doubt before, Lagerwey made clear that he did not view this as a lateral move but as a promotion. While Lagerwey noted “the buck stops with me” when it comes to Atlanta’s overall performance, he also made clear Carlos Bocanegra was and remains Atlanta’s main soccer decision-maker.
In Atlanta, though, he’ll have a much wider purview than just soccer, and a similar position simply was never going to materialize in Seattle.
“It’s a different job and a different skill,” Lagerwey said. “In Seattle, you had an incredibly accomplished owner in Adrian Hanauer who was the GM before I took over. They’re highly capable. The CEO is not a role they have and not one they’re going to have. To Adrian’s credit, he was always open to me about that. ‘If you want to move forward with your career, that opportunity very likely won’t be here.’
“That’s not the way Seattle is set up, and as long as Adrian is there I don’t know that they need it. They’ve had fantastic leadership on the business side as well. This is a step forward for me to run the business and soccer side.”
Lagerwey noted that he had been a general manager for 15 years — first with Real Salt Lake and then with the Sounders — after having previously worked as a business lawyer with the firm Latham & Watkins. He’s been interested in expanding beyond the soccer aspect of the job for a long time, but acknowledges there will be a learning curve.
“I have some foundation and at least I can learn some stuff,” he joked.