Sounders Insider

GM Part 3: Lagerwey talks infrastructure, 'cradle-to-grave' player development

"I have not met anybody from the Seahawks side yet – not that it’s not very important, it’s just that I haven’t had time yet.

"In terms of building infrastructure for the club, we’re going through a time now of re-examining our academy. My old job we felt like we had arguably the best academy in the country. Are there elements of that model we can take an incorporate here? Which is not to say necessarily that we would do a residency academy here, but there are still concepts that you can take out of that and try to apply to this market, which should have a lot more talent than Arizona and Utah do, if you just look historically at the number of pros that have been produced out of Washington state. There’s that aspect. There’s launching S2. And then, oh by the way, the first-team season starts in three weeks.

"So a couple of things on our plate, and we’re looking at things here at Starfire in terms of the facility, in terms of how we use the facility, in potentially developing some new facilities here in the context of S2 coming in and playing all there games here and wanting to do more with our academy. So a lot of exciting things in the works.

"And we really are looking at what I call cradle-to-grave player development, meaning

13-, 14-years old right now, eventually going younger than that, playing in the same style of play, the same concepts of play, the same philosophy of play from our junior academy teams through S2 to the first team. We’ve caught lightning in a bottle a little bit with DeAndre Yedlin’s development and signing and sale, but can we do that many more times. And it’s not dissimilar to winning a title in the sense that you’ve kind of got this high-water mark with DeAndre, but the goal from a GM perspective is to create a system whereby you got two or three kids – and again, certainly not every year -- but let’s say it’s one kid a year, but it’s groups of kids over time.

"And as a GM I usually say that I try to never have to be right, which means I try to always sign two or three guys that can do the job, and then the players sort it out, the players make the decisions. I think particularly in developing young players, competition is essential. You can’t anoint a kid at 14, 15, 16 or 17 and say he’s our guy, he’s our prospect. He’s got to have competition, both within the team and for his spot. And that means if you can create these three layers – the academy, first team and S2 – not you have a franchise-wide and organization-wide depth chart.

"And you look at your player acquisitions in that context with a longer-term view toward not just development, but performance. So then when you talk about, ‘Can you win a title?’ I can look five years out as to what my pipeline looks like. I can look at what I have signed and what length contracts they are, I can look at what age they are, and then I can tell you – and this is the truth; people may not want to hear it all the time – in certain years you have a better chance than others. You maximize your chances as best you can in every particular year, but you build the infrastructure such that that’s what allows you then to make those choices and say I’m going to tweak here and move that there to try to maximize every year, understanding that there are cycles in sports and there are some that are going to be more important than others.

"And we have a window now with Oba and with Clint and even with Ozzie and Chad Marshall and Frei and Evans – you have a lot of players that are around 30 years old. We both have to restock the farm system and launch a new team and win now. It’s a big job. But it’s fun, and when you’re busy, that’s usually a good thing."

Thursday: Lagerwey talks about the added resources available in Seattle that weren't available to him at Salt Lake ... and if that's purely a good thing.

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