RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Sounders have promoted Craig Waibel to general manager and chief soccer officer, the team announced Wednesday.

Waibel steps into the role that was held by Garth Lagerwey before he left last week to take over as the president and CEO of Atlanta United. Waibel has been with the Sounders since 2021 as the vice president of soccer operations and sporting director. Before that, the Washington state native spent five seasons as the general manager of Real Salt Lake.

Waibel is also a former Sounders player. He played for the club when it was part of the A-League in the late 1990s.

“This is a special organization and I embrace the high expectations that this club has of itself,” Waibel said. “The Sounders community means a great deal to me."

Waibel takes the helm after Seattle failed to make the MLS playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season. Seattle did become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League in May and it qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup, but the Sounders stumbled in league play and finished 11th in the Western Conference.

Waibel is the third GM in club history after current majority owner Adrian Hanauer and Lagerwey.

“We are fortunate to have him leading us during this crucial phase in our history, I’m excited to continue working with him and look forward to what he can accomplish,” Hanauer said.

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