U.S. Soccer officially hires Earnie Stewart as first general manager of men's team

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Earnie Stewart’s hiring as general manager of the U.S. men’s national team finally became official on Wednesday, a little more than a week after Yahoo Sports reported that the parties were finalizing a deal.

A three-time World Cup player for the U.S. who won over 100 caps during his 14-year international career, Stewart begins his new job on Aug 1. He’ll remain in his current role as sporting director of the Philadelphia Union in MLS until then. The 49-year-old previously held executive positions with Dutch clubs AZ Alkmaar, NAC Breda and VVV Venlo.

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“With his breadth of experience as both a player and a technical director, Earnie is the ideal leader to guide the long-term success of our men’s national team program,” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said in a press release. “This is a further step in our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”

The GM position was created by the federation’s board in the wake of the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which kicks off this month. The first order of business for Stewart will be to find a new head coach. That process had been overseen in the past by USSF CEO Dan Flynn and then-president Sunil Gulati. Cordeiro succeeded Gulati in February after Gulati decided not to run for reelection.

“Having played for the U.S. men’s national team, I’m honored by the opportunity to return to help lead this rebuilding phase,” Stewart said in a statement.

“We have a tremendous amount of young talent and passion in the U.S., and I’m ready to jump in, hire a new head coach and build a culture of success, with the ultimate goal of the U.S. men’s national team becoming a world champion.”

(NBC Sports Philadelphia)
(NBC Sports Philadelphia)

The U.S. men have been led since November by interim manager Dave Sarachan. Sarachan, who is not considered a contender to coach the team permanently, took over after Bruce Arena resigned.

Born to a Dutch mother and an American serviceman father and raised in the Netherlands, Stewart was chosen from a field of about 10 candidates. The search was conducted by a six-person committee comprised of Flynn, former national team players Carlos Bocanegra and Angela Hucles, USSF technical officers Nico Romeijn and Ryan Mooney and marketing chief Jay Berhalter.

The men’s GM won’t oversee youth national teams. Stewart will be responsible solely for the senior squad. But he will work closely with youth technical director Tab Ramos to implement a consistent style of play through the ranks.

“Building a culture is something that you have to do together,” Stewart said. “It’s not one person or two people. It’s actually sitting down and having conversations with the coaches of the U.S. youth national teams.”

Familiarity should help. Ramos and Stewart have known each other for decades and were teammates at the 1994 and ’98 World Cups.

“Based on the profile of the position and the required skills, Earnie is a natural fit,” said Romeijn.

And it seems to be a dream job for Stewart, who left the Netherlands for Philadelphia three years ago with an eye on influencing American soccer.

“It’s the top of the pyramid in my profession — in my book, this is the highest that you can achieve as a sporting director,” he said. “I’ve worked very hard to have this opportunity. When it came, it was something I could not turn down.”

Doug McIntyre covers soccer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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