The Philadelphia Union have kickstarted their offseason with a big-time hire.
Current AZ Alkmaar executive and former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Earnie Stewart has been hired as the Union’s sporting director, the club announced Monday. The 46-year-old executive is set to join the club at the start of the new year.
Stewart, a U.S. Men’s National Team regular from 1990-2005 that was a part of three World Cup squads, played two seasons in MLS and captured the 2004 MLS Cup as a member of D.C. United.
Most recently, Stewart has held the title of Director of Football Affairs at AZ Alkmaar, which has reached the Europa League each of the past six seasons. Recently, Stewart and Alkmaar were recognized with the Rinus Michels Award for having the best youth academy in Holland.
“I am thrilled with the opportunity to come to the Philadelphia Union and help create a winning team which the fans can identify with,” Stewart said. “I look forward to working with everyone at the Union to establish a clear playing philosophy and use my experience to create a competitive edge in our methods of recruiting and developing players at all levels of the club, from the Academy up through the First Team.
“From the first moment I spoke with the Union about the direction they wanted to go I was excited about the long term opportunity and my ability to help execute on our shared vision. I would like to thank AZ for giving me the chance to follow my ambition in coming back to the United States and I remain committed to fulfilling my duties here at AZ Alkmaar through the end of the year. I will work my hardest to hit the ground running for the Union and be ready for the important decisions the club will make entering the 2016 season.”
As sporting director, Stewart will oversee the club’s technical and soccer-related decisions while working to develop the club’s first team, academy and USL side.
The Union finished 2015 ninth in the Eastern Conference with just 37 points.
“In searching for a Sporting Director, we defined specific criteria we were looking for a candidate to fulfill,” Union owner Jay Sugarman said. “Earnie rated highly on all our key metrics. His understanding of the international soccer landscape and viewpoint on Major League Soccer, combined with his experience in player development and strong work ethic, make Earnie an excellent fit for this important role.
“Earnie’s long-term vision and desire to positively impact soccer in the United States aligns closely with our vision for the Philadelphia Union and we are excited to welcome him back to the USA and put him in a position to drive the Union to long term success.”
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