Three-time World Cup player Earnie Stewart was named Wednesday to the newly credited position of general manager for the U.S. men’s national team program.
Stewart, a national soccer Hall of Famer, has spent more than three decades as a player, coach and administrator at the top levels of club and international soccer, in the U.S. and Europe. He was most recently sporting director for the Philadelphia Union of MLS.
He will assume his new role Aug. 1. The position of general manager was created by the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors after the February election of Carlos Cordeiro as the federation president.
As a national team player, Stewart earned 101 international caps between 1990 and 2004 and is tied for second all-time with 11 World Cup matches played.
Stewart takes the helm of a national team in transition after its failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup. The U.S. last missed the tournament in 1986. Among Stewart’s first duties will be the selection of a head coach. Bruce Arena resigned after the final qualifier in October and the contract of his interim replacement, former Galaxy assistant Dave Sarachan, expires at the end of the month.
“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,” Stewart said in a statement.
In addition to picking a coach, Stewart said his priorities include getting to know the national team player pool, including the youth national team, and building a culture for the men’s program.
“It starts with our culture,” he said. “The culture of professionalism, of having values with each other and then reacting to those values. Coming into camp every single time and making sure that everybody knows exactly where they stand and who they are. It creates a culture that is very strong.
“Once everybody believes in the same goals, there’s going to be an automatic team chemistry. I truly believe that if everybody understands their roles and responsibilities, not only of themselves, but of everybody that’s next to them, you create this great team chemistry. One of the things that we have in the United States, apart from creating that kind of team chemistry, is that when the flag is raised, we know exactly what business is about. The combination of those two can be very good.”
Before joining the Union three years ago Stewart earned a reputation as a successful builder of clubs during 18 years in the Netherlands, where he worked at VVV Venlo, NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar. His teams finished in the top three in the league four times and qualified five times for European competition
“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,” Cordeiro said. “Combined with the structural changes at the Federation that we announced in April, this is a further step in our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”