As expected, U.S. Soccer named former U.S. national team defender
Kate Markgraf as the first women's national team general manager.
The news was that U.S. Soccer has created a new position of sporting director, promoting Earnie Stewart to oversee the men's and women's programs and youth national teams in charge of what the federation terms its Sports Performance Department.
Markgraf played for the USA when it captured the 1999 Women's World Cup and she won two Olympic gold medals, finishing her career with 201 caps. She has most recently been working as an ESPN analyst
The role of general manager has been changed to include the management of the senior national team and youth national teams. Markgraf will be responsible for hiring a replacement for women's national team coach Jill Ellis, who will be stepping down in October.
Markgraf said on ESPN the evening of Ellis' announcement about leaving her position that the likely coaching
candidates were Laura Harvey (Utah Royals), Paul Riley (North Carolina Courage), Vlatko
Andonovski (Reign FC) and Mark Krikorian (Florida State University).
More generally, Markgraf will be responsible for managing, hiring and developing senior and youth women's national team coaches and their technical and administrative staffs. She will also be responsible for creating, implementing and managing a technical plan and setting standards for all national teams on the women's side.
"This new role presents some big challenges, but all are exciting, important to the future of the game and certainly energizing," said Markgraf. "I'm honored to come back to an organization and program that I love, one which helped mold me as a player and person, and to contribute to its continued growth. To reach the top of the world is difficult enough, but to stay there takes a tremendous amount of hard work by players, coaches, staff and administrators, and I'm looking forward to collaborating with those inside and outside of U.S. Soccer to make that happen."
With Stewart's move into the position of sporting director, he will be hiring a new men's general manager, and the men's and women's national team general managers will report to him.
“One of the priorities when I took over was making sure that our soccer operations were run by soccer experts,” said U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro. “And that is what today is all about.”