REAL SALT LAKE INKS GENERAL MANAGER GARTH LAGERWEY TO FOUR-YEAR EXTENSION
Former MLS Goalkeeper & Latham-trained Attorney Secured through 2014 Season
SANDY, UT (Friday, September 10, 2010) – Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey has signed a four-year contract extension, ensuring his presence in the RSL front office through the 2014 Major League Soccer season, RSL President Bill Manning announced today. Under Lagerwey’s stewardship, RSL has undergone a massive competitive transformation, advancing to consecutive Conference Finals and delivering to the state of Utah its first major-league professional championship in nearly 40 years.
“Garth has been one of the major forces behind our successful rise on the field, which has also had a positive effect on our overall business operation,” said Manning. “He is talented, well thought out and in my opinion one of the sharpest young minds in the game today. It was important to me and our ownership that we ensure for our fans a perennial championship contender, and that we reward Garth for his success and guarantee consistency in the front office.”
Lagerwey works closely with former Duke University and Dallas Burn teammate and current RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis regarding player acquisitions, scouting, the MLS Draft and all player personnel-related matters. Both have successfully implemented a culture where players, staff and fans work as one for the RSL shield, epitomizing a “Team is the Star” attitude. Lagerwey, Kreis and the team’s coaches – Jeff Cassar, Robin Fraser and Miles Joseph – compose the lone technical staff among MLS’ 16 current teams comprised entirely of former MLS players. Since Lagerwey’s arrival at nearly the precise midpoint of the team’s six-season plus history, RSL’s fortunes have improved dramatically:
Lagerwey Era Previous Regime
Games (reg. season) 90 88
Wins 35 19 46% increase
Losses 28 48 42% decrease
Ties 27 21
Points 132 78 40% increase
Pts/Game 1.47 0.87
Win Pct. .539 .335 21% increase
Playoff Games 7 0
Playoff Record 3-1-3 n/a
Championships 1 0
*** Reflects games played through Sept. 9, 2010
"This contract extension is an embodiment of the work put in by so many people other than myself. This is my dream job and RSL’s success would not be possible without the consistent excellence of our players and the tireless work of our staff,” said Lagerwey, hired by Checketts after crossing paths in a transaction involving the NHL’s St. Louis Blues.
“It is a rare opportunity that I have been given to work for Dave Checketts, who gave me a chance when no one else would have. I am grateful for the culture he has created where we need not be afraid to fail and where we have consistent opportunities to ask questions, to learn and to grow. I hope to reward his faith by fulfilling the mission he has laid before all of us to construct a dynasty here at RSL.
“I also want to thank Dell Loy Hansen for the injection of energy he has given our club in the past year. It is a pleasure to work for Bill Manning and I have learned a great deal under his mentorship. Perhaps most of all, I look forward to continuing to work with my friend and teammate of nearly 20 years, Jason Kreis. He constantly challenges me to provide the environment our team needs to succeed and we make each other better.
“Our vision to create a player-centric organization is the foundation of our collective success and our philosophy that the ‘Team is the Star’ is one that permeates our organization both on and off the field. Working together, we can win multiple championships and reward the devotion of our fans, without whom we would not have our Rio Tinto Stadium unbeaten streak nor our MLS Cup triumph.”
Since arriving to Utah in September, 2007, Lagerwey has successfully negotiated contract extensions of several critical players, including GK Nick Rimando, MF Javier Morales, FW Fabian Espíndola, DF Chris Wingert, DF Jamison Olave, MF Andy Williams and current Captain Kyle Beckerman. Over the past three-plus seasons, these “core” individuals have established the foundation for RSL.
Additionally, Lagerwey has been critical in the identification and recruitment of several key pieces to Real Salt Lake’s deep postseason runs in recent years, including last season’s MLS Cup championship and this year’s Supporters’ Shield challenger status, including DF Nat Borchers, MF Will Johnson, DF Robbie Russell and former MF Clint Mathis – each of whom left careers in Europe to return stateside in 2008 and bolster Real Salt Lake.
Along the way, Lagerwey successfully engineered deals to create the deepest bench in Major League Soccer, acquiring starting-caliber players Ned Grabavoy and Rauwshan McKenzie off waivers and trading for both Pablo Campos and Luis Gil. Depth has also been added via the MLS SuperDraft, as DF Tony Beltran, MF Jean Alexandre and MF Collen Warner have logged significant minutes in various competitions in their young careers.
In anticipation of RSL’s participation in the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League, Lagerwey also engineered loan deals for Costa Rican international FW Álvaro Saborío – currently RSL’s leading goal scorer – and Argentine utility player Nelson Gonzalez, each of whom have played a critical role this year.
Lagerwey and Kreis have engineered an extensive Real Salt Lake overhaul, molding a glut of new faces into a competitive unit that opened the state-of-the-art Rio Tinto Stadium in 2008 and dramatically qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs on the final weekend of the year in both 2008 and 2009. Currently, RSL is competing on three fronts: challenging for the 2010 MLS Supporters’ Shield (regular-season champion), positioning itself for the MLS Cup Playoffs (beginning in November) and competing in the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League, a regional competition with a trip to the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup awaiting the winner.
Lagerwey has been intimately involved in Major League Soccer circles since the League’s inception in 1996, when he began his five-year career as a goalkeeper for the Kansas City Wizards (1996), the Dallas Burn (1997-98), and Miami Fusion FC (1999-2000). Lagerwey’s three stints in the League’s early days allowed him to cross paths with a handful of current RSL players and coaches, including Williams, Rimando, Beckerman, Cassar, and Kreis.
A native of Elmhurst, Ill., Lagerwey’s sharp wit and knowledge of American soccer at all levels made him a natural fit in the media realm, getting his start by filling in as a guest writer for Sports Illustrated and SI.com writer Grant Wahl’s weekly soccer column. Lagerwey traded his pen for a microphone upon retirement and served as a color analyst for D.C. United’s television broadcasts on Comcast Sportsnet during parts of seven MLS seasons (2001-07).
Lagerwey joined Real Salt Lake from the law firm of Latham & Watkins, where he served as an associate in the Corporate Department of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. A graduate of both Duke University (BA, 1994) and Georgetown University Law School (JD, 2004), Lagerwey’s experience in the practice’s Sports, Media & Entertainment; Investment & Strategic Ventures; and Mergers & Acquisitions divisions included assistance in a client’s acquisition of a minority portion of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, the majority owner of which is SCP Worldwide; the buying and selling of companies in a variety of fields; and extensive fund formation and management of the investment funds for the Carlyle Group, with emphasis in the energy sector.
Latham and Watkins’ Los Angeles office spawned the careers of Major League Soccer Founder Alan I. Rothenberg, for whom the League’s first-ever Cup Championship trophy was named, as well as that of current MLS President Mark Abbott. Former MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis – currently the Chief Operating Officer of famed English club Arsenal – began his career in the firm’s London office.