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Earnie Stewart promoted to Sporting Director of U.S. Soccer

Earnie Stewart has been given a promotion with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

U.S. Soccer announced on Monday that Stewart has been appointed as the first-ever Sporting Director. In his new role, Stewart will oversee U.S. Soccer’s entire Sports Performance Department, including the men’s and women’s senior and youth National Team programs.

He will also oversee all other Sports Performance departments, including Talent Identification, High Performance and Analytics. The move comes in conjunction with former U.S. Women’s National Team player Kate Markgraf being named the first general manager of the USWNT.

“This is a great day for the Federation and for soccer in America,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro said. “In Earnie Stewart and Kate Markgraf, we’re keeping our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts. With Earnie as Sporting Director and Kate as the first General Manager of our Women’s National Team, we have the leaders in place to align our technical approach, develop the next generation of players and win championships.”

Stewart was named USMNT General Manager in 2018, but due to his promotion that means a new search for his replacement as GM will immediately begin. He won 101 caps with the USMNT during his playing career and also served a number of different positions, including Sporting Director of MLS’ Philadelphia Union from 2015-18′.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity as we take another important step in our mission to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States,” Stewart said. “I firmly believe that having alignment in all the technical areas and programs of the Federation will fuel ideas, create better understanding and ultimately improve performance. We want U.S. Soccer to be the leaders and drivers of the sport in this country, which also means we have to engage and communicate with participants at all levels. I look forward to the challenge.”


  1. So I’m going to take the contrarian point of view here. I agree Earnie hasn’t done much as of yet in his current role to warrant a promotion. The coaching search was non existent and seemed to be settled on GB before Earnie even started anyway. However, before you can become a change agent within an organization you have to spend time building trust and respect of the people over you and under you. Its still possible Earnie is this change agent and it may just take a long time for him to accumulate the power and respect within the organization to make the changes he wants to actually make. He spent nearly all his time playing and working in the FO of Dutch clubs, it is very unlikely that he doesn’t have ideas on how he wants to change things from within USSoccer, what his more likely is he’s just not in a position of real power to bring those changes forward yet. If that is true then that current lack of power in the GM role says more about how USSoccer and SUM/MLS are using it as a way to deflect the failures of qualifying onto this position and any future failures going forward. However, I doubt that Earnie is a thru and thru company man and believe its more likely he sees this as an opportunity to work from within the current power structure to fix the system and in time over years mold things into his vision as he gains more seniority and power with the organization. What is obvious is that the these roles of GM and possibly even the new roles of Sporting Director are not the ones with any power currently at least to effect change, which is a shame, but here to hoping that Earnie is bidding his time to make his move once he’s gather that power.

  2. this all feels a little too cutely planned, Jay Berhalter, about whom conflict of interest concerns were raised, shifts from commercial to soccer side, Stewart’s portfolio expands after one year of moderate results over USMNT. i don’t like feeling like we’re being gamed.

    • Berhalter’s move to the soccer side? If he wins the CEO race that’s still not the soccer side that’s financial. This move further insulates the on field product from the executive branch by creating another layer of control. I worry it further spreads accountability but I don’t see how it adds to Jay’s power.

  3. The full article at US Soccer explains the positions in more detail. They seem to be trying to “connect the pyramid” by establishing the same basic frameworks across the different NT age groups. Actually, it sounds a lot like what Klinsmann was talking about a decade ago. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but like others said, the PR from USSF needs improvement. They need to settle this thing with the USWNT, and then go on a serious campaign to win back fans. More transparency, lower ticket prices, make games more accessible for families, run some specials, I mean it’s not rocket science.

    • shouldn’t you “earn” the right to remake the fed in your image? i get we accumulate great results at the NT level, let’s try expanding it. but this is let’s let play around the guy whose union team got better after he left.

      • Yeah I don’t know if Stewart is the right fit or not. I’m just saying that coordinating basic styles and philosophies across the national teams, sharing info/contacts, putting a real face in charge, etc. is a good idea. A little shocking it wasn’t like that before, but I think we are seeing the growth of the game on the field and among fans has outpaced the growth of the organization over the last couple of decades.

  4. So Ernie got promoted for doing what exactly? Besides taking forever to hire Berhalter and failing to interview lots of candidates? This has all the hallmarks of a dysfunctional executive org that spends most of their effort thinking about reorgs and who to hire next.

    Side story. I have a friend whose a mid level exec at a prominent tech company who is also very involved in amateur soccer. Smart, competent guy, but nothing out of the ordinary in his industry and position. He happened to get a meeting for drinks with a USSF exec who was in town. Afterwards, he told me he was shocked at how unimpressive and mediocre this person was. “I couldn’t even imagine him as one of my low level managers. It’s sad.”

  5. This organization is beyond ridiculous. The only thing anybody has seen Stewart actually
    “do” is take months to conduct an astonishingly half-assed hiring process. How many more clowns do we need in this tent???

  6. It took months to hire Earnie for the job, now that position has even less power and responsibility. I think most people were already confused what the GM did now what will they do? If this frees up the GM to stay in contact with National team pool players good.

  7. Confused……

    just when the federation made some “equal job” progress they go ahead and say, oh shoot, we need a man to oversee the woman GM.

    Either that or they wanted to avoid the “is Earnie and Kate making the same?” question.
    So they gave Earnie a “promotion”.

    haha kidding…….i think.


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