By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Dec 7, 2022) US Soccer Players – With much of the world focused on the World Cup, Major League Soccer is going about its winter business. If not for the biggest sporting event on the planet happening simultaneously with massive news dropping across the North American competition, there might be more attention available. As it is, it’s a great time to catch up on what’s been happening around MLS, with the calendar soon to turnover to 2023.
That starts with Garth Lagerwey leaving as the Seattle Sounders general manager for a new challenge as the president and CEO of Atlanta United. Lagerwey worked to put together the collection of talent that helped Seattle win two MLS Cups, reach two more MLS Cup finals, and win last season’s Concacaf Champions League title.
The former MLS goalkeeper won an MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake in 2009 and helped the small-market club reach another MLS Cup final in 2013. Lagerwey’s arrival in Seattle after the 2014 season increased the possibilities for a club that made waves from the moment of its MLS launch. With Lagerwey as GM, the club put together several teams that have a claim for the best MLS has ever seen.
Now, the move to Atlanta has Lagerwey in that club’s top role. He’ll oversee a soccer operation with Carlos Bocanegra as general manager and former Sounders’ assistant Gonzalo Pineda as head coach. There’s no questioning the ambition of his new club.
“I see the opportunity to lead Atlanta United as a dream come true for me,” Lagerwey said in the press statement announcing the move. “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.”
Craig Waibel, who followed Lagerwey into the job of general manager at Real Salt Lake and then joined Seattle as sporting director under Lagerwey, is the Sounders’ new general manager and chief soccer officer.
Meanwhile, the re-entry draft saw US international Bobby Wood joining the New England Revolution . The forward joins New England after the Revs selected Wood in stage 2 of the re-entry draft two weeks ago and negotiated a one-year contract with an extra option year announced on Monday. New England moved up to the first pick through a trade with DC United that cost the Revolution $50,000 in allocation money for 2023.
The move to New England reunites Wood with Bruce Arena, one of two coaches the former Bundesliga forward played for with the USMNT. Wood joins a group of forwards with the Revolution that includes Giacomo Vrioni, Gustavo Bou, and Jozy Altidore.
Wood is a player Arena can use to help get the Revs back into the hunt for the top spots in the Eastern Conference. Following 2021’s record-breaking campaign, New England slumped in 2022 and missed the playoffs by six points.
Higher up the Eastern Conference table, Montreal put in the best season in its MLS history with a 2nd-place finish, led by the play of Djordje Mihailovic, Victor Wanyama, Alistair Johnston, and Ismael Kone under the direction of MLS Coach of the Year runner-up Wilfried Nancy.
Just a few months later, all of those names are gone. Mihailovic completed a transfer to AZ Alkmaar in Holland negotiated in the summer. Wanyama played out his contract with Montreal and is looking for a new club. Johnston completed a move to Celtic and Kone transferred to Watford. The coach, Nancy, was named the new boss of the Columbus Crew on Tuesday.
Columbus’s failure to make the playoffs in 2022 stands out because of the talent on the roster. Lucas Zelerayan is one of the league’s best playmaking attacking midfielders, and summer addition Cucho Hernandez showed his talent by scoring nine goals in 15 games. They also have one of the league’s best two-way midfielders in Darlington Nagbe, capable of dictating the tempo of a match all by himself. While the roster should see changes through the offseason as the front office works to get Nancy the tools necessary to succeed, the new coach arrives with a cupboard far from bare.
More From Jason Davis:
- Previewing the Netherlands after an interesting group A
- Defense, balance, and limited changes helped England and the USMNT advance from group B
- What the USMNT can use from two group B goals
- Preview: USMNT vs Wales, 2022 World Cup group B
Photo by Perry McIntyre – ISIPhotos.com