Casa Grande, Ariz. • Garth Lagerwey was in full summer mode in January inside his hotel room at the Grande Sports World complex Tuesday. Sporting blue Real Salt Lake shorts and a white RSL T-shirt, the club’s general manager and I spoke at length about several topics regarding him and the club.
We broached the absurdity of how short this year’s off-season was — or nonexistent, as Lagerwey explained — the new coaching staff, the 2014 season, expectations, RSL’s Arizona Academy and the state of Major League Soccer.
Much of his comments and that insight will be run in a series of stories I’m aiming to gather down here in Casa Grande, Ariz., where RSL prepares for its 10th season as an MLS franchise.
But I asked Lagerwey the question that will undoubtedly hang over him, the front office and RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen until — or if — it’s resolved. Much like 2013, when former RSL coach Jason Kreis entered the season in a contract year without reaching an extension, Lagerwey enters 2014 in the same shoes.
The architect of RSL’s rise in MLS says his goal, no matter the circumstances, is to be happy.
"I’m very flattered by the opportunity that RSL has given me and am very grateful to work with a new coaching staff — really excited about the opportunity," Lagerwey said, "and we’ll see how the year plays out and what opportunities present themselves to stay with RSL long term at that time."
So what does the future hold?
"Certainly I hope that Mr. Hansen sees me to be a valuable part of the organization — I believe he does — that’s the indication he’s given me," Lagerwey continued. "I’m very happy about the relationship I have here and my family likes it here."
And while fans had a hard time saying goodbye to Kreis, his mantra — everyone knows what it is — was adopted by the club, Lagerwey and the fervent and growing fan base. While club’s success has been cultivated by the likes of Kreis, Lagerwey and team president Bill Manning and many others, the RSL general manager says it’s not impossible to recreate.
"The goal of any good organization is to set up systems so that you can replicate," he said.
With 25 players returning from last year’s Western Conference title-winning side and a new coach in Jeff Cassar, 2014 will be flush with intrigue. The continued development of the young players, of how the aging RSL spine holds up in a World Cup year and how Cassar handles the reins for the first time as the man in charge.
You’d have to put Lagerwey’s future with the club in there as well, who did add he’d like to run a franchise one day as a team president, something that’s been reported and something Hansen told me the week before the MLS Cup final.
"You have to have a group of people you value working with," Lagerwey said. "So far, not only is it good, it’s really good. I’m being very honest here, if I boil it down? I want to be happy."
Headed back to Grande Sports Complex today to watch RSL take on the Academy’s U-18 team in a scrimmage at 11 a.m. Will be reporting insight on Twitter (@chriskamrani), and may even play in the staff-PR scrimmage later today.
Anyone have a scouting report on Cassar in goal?
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