ATLANTA — Atlanta United named a new president and CEO on Tuesday, appointing an executive at a critical and tumultuous juncture for a club looking to regain the upward trajectory it was on just a few years ago.
United announced they had tapped Garther Lagerwey, who has been president and general manager of the Seattle Sounders since 2015.
His achievements in Seattle include two MLS Cups championships and a Concacaf Champions League title this year - making Seattle the first MLS club to win the tournament. He also previously worked for Real Salt Lake.
Atlanta United did not detail any of the terms of their agreement with Lagerwey, saying in a release he had "signed a multi-year contract."
The club's previous president, Darren Eeales, departed for his native country England and a step up to Premier League club Newcastle United in July.
Lagerwey steps into the position as the club weighs what to do with the future of its star forward and face of the franchise, Josef Martinez, and how best to regain their footing as a leading MLS franchise.
United have stumbled since winning the MLS Cup title in 2018 and then returning to the Eastern Conference Finals the following year.
Last season, the first full one under coach Gonzalo Pineda, United failed to make the playoffs for the second time in the last three years. The team finished 11th in the Eastern Conference with 10 wins, 14 losses and 10 draws.
Pineda took over in August 2021 after successive short, volatile managerial stints by his immediate predecessors Gabriel Heinze and Frank De Boer.
In a statement, Lagerwey said the opportunity Atlanta United presented him with was a "dream come true."
“The opportunity to take on the chief executive role at a club with incredible ownership, unmatched resources and infrastructure, and the amazing fan support this club has enjoyed from the start, all made this move the perfect next step in my career. Honestly, it’s the chance of a lifetime and I could not be more excited to get to Atlanta and get to work," he said.
Steve Cannon, the CEO of United's parent company, AMB Sports & Entertainment - which oversees United, the Falcons and Mercedes-Benz Stadium - noted the club's ambitions to return to the MLS elite in a statement.
"Our foundational goal from day one in Major League Soccer has been for Atlanta United to be a contender for MLS Cup each year, so we set out to find a leader with deep knowledge and experience in the league and a proven track record of success,” Cannon said. “We have certainly found that leader in Garth Lagerwey and could not be more thrilled to have him take the reins of our team. His body of work in Seattle and Salt Lake City speaks for itself. His experience as a player in the league and time as an executive who has developed a keen understanding of both the soccer and business sides of running an organization made him the perfect fit as we move forward with Atlanta United.”