NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 9, 2019) – Major League Soccer announced today the winners of year-end awards that recognize individuals and clubs for outstanding front office contributions.
The Club Executive award winners were highlighted by Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) EVP and Chief Business Officer Larry Freedman being recognized as the Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year. Under Freedman’s leadership, LAFC enjoyed historic success both on and off the field in 2019, just a year after he presided over the club’s record-breaking launch and inaugural season. In its second year, LAFC continued to make history, improving its overall ticketing, sponsorship and commercial metrics from its successful first season. In addition, Freedman has been dedicated to the formation and launch of the LAFC Sports Foundation, which hosted its inaugural ‘Black & Gold Gala’ to raise funds to further the Club’s support of youth and communities across Greater Los Angeles.
LAFC has sold out every MLS home match played at Banc of California Stadium, as the Club, which has over 17,500 season ticket members, has quickly emerged as a true destination in the crowded Los Angeles sports landscape. Freedman’s guidance has helped the Club continue to be recognized as a leader in the sports and entertainment industry in 2019, as LAFC was the recipient of numerous awards including Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company (#1 Live Events category), Front Office Sports’ Best Employer in Sports and several MLS Club Executive and Sales Awards
The Sporting Executive of the Year went to Seattle Sounders FC General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. Under Lagerwey’s leadership, Sounders FC qualified for its league-record 11th consecutive postseason appearance in 2019 after finishing in second place in the Western Conference with a record of 16-10-8. After defeating FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake in the opening round rounds, the Rave Green took down Supporters’ Shield winner Los Angeles FC in the Western Conference Championship, before winning the championship rubber match versus Toronto FC in MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The two clubs had previously split the 2016 and 2017 league titles, both played at BMO Field.
Since Lagerwey joined the club from Real Salt Lake prior to the 2015 season, Sounders FC has accumulated a 77-57-36 MLS regular-season record, as well as a 14-4-2 record in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Never finishing lower than the fourth seed in the Western Conference under his management, Lagerwey has also led the Rave Green to five postseason appearances, three MLS Cup appearances and two league championships. Factoring in his time at Real Salt Lake from 2007-2014, Lagerwey has led his teams to six major finals in the past 12 years, including five MLS Cup appearances (three wins) as well as a spot the 2011 Concacaf Champions League final, the first MLS side to advance that far in the regional tournament.
Minnesota United FC (MNUFC) took home a notable four awards including Corporate Partnerships Team and Executive of the year under Katie Mattis. In their first year at Allianz field, MNUFC nearly doubled sponsorship revenue year-over-year and significantly increased partnership engagement. Mattis is the first MLS club front office member to win a Club Executive award with two different Clubs (she won the 2010 Corporate Partnerships Executive of the Year with Real Salt Lake).
A complete list of 2019 MLS Club Executive Award winners is detailed below.
2019 MLS Club Executive Award Winners:
- Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year – Larry Freedman, Los Angeles Football Club
- Sporting Executive of the Year – Garth Lagerwey, Seattle Sounders FC
- Corporate Partnerships Team of the Year – Minnesota United FC
- Ticket Sales Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
- Corporate Partnerships Executive of the Year – Katie Mattis, Minnesota United FC
- Ticketing Executive of the Year – Jeff Smith, FC Cincinnati
- Marketing Executive of the Year – John Guagliano, Minnesota Untied FC
- Public Relations Team of the Year – LA Galaxy
- Club Retailer of the Year – Portland Timbers
- Platform/Activation of the Year – Montreal Impact (BMO Jersey Swap)
- Marketing Initiative of the Year – Atlanta United (Kings Become Legends)
- Marisa Colaiano Community Relations Club of the Year presented by MLS WORKS – New York City Football Club
- Business Analytics Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
- Academy of the Year – FC Dallas
- Digital Team of the Year – San Jose Earthquakes
- Digital Content Activation of the Year – LA Galaxy (#BeckhamStatue)
- Equipment Manager of the Year – Brandon Comisky, Philadelphia Union
- Operations Staff of the Year – Philadelphia Union
- Supporter Management Team of the Year – Montreal Impact
- Security Team of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
- eMLS Team of the Year – New York Red Bulls
- Team Administrator of the Year presented by SportsCorp Travel – Ted Tieu, Toronto FC
- Athletic Training Staff of the Year – Minnesota United FC