U.S. Soccer confirms Kate Markgraf as USWNT GM, names Earnie Stewart sporting director

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.”

8 comments about "U.S. Soccer confirms Kate Markgraf as USWNT GM, names Earnie Stewart sporting director".
  1. Richard T. Lynch, August 12, 2019 at 8:52 p.m.

    Markgraf's qualifications for GM are to have played a lot for the NT and been A TV analyst.  Has she ever managed anything? Or coached?

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, August 12, 2019 at 9:38 p.m.

    Being an analyst is not a qualification. She is a world champion and a member of that special group of women from the 90s. That is an excellent qualification for a non-coaching management position for the WNT program.

  3. Bob Ashpole, August 12, 2019 at 9:33 p.m.

    So has USSF reorganized again? The article sounds like the GM is a decision maker rather than middle manager who is part of a committee making recommendations to the CEO. Is the Sporting Director yet another level of management between the CEO and the middle managers?

    I would be very much in favor of a Sporting Director that direct reports to the Board, but the only thing apparent to me is that USSF is a bureacracy. I suspect that the new position is just another layer of management telling the national team coaches how to do their jobs, which is the last thing a head coach needs.

  4. Richard T. Lynch, August 12, 2019 at 9:53 p.m.

    Sorry, Bob, being a player does not give her qualifications to be a manager of a program as important as the WNT.  Of course, as you note, she IS a member of the clique so she'll be accepted by the team.  Good luck to her.  I hope she is successful.  I don't know enough about the program, despite watching the WNT for years, to know if there were better candidates.  

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, August 13, 2019 at 1:22 a.m.

    Richard, it isn't just about being a player. She is a member of a very special, talented group of women. Think of her as a very influential important alumni. She knows what the program needs to be successful and will be highly motivated and connected to make the program successful. While USSF is hiring Markgraf, they are in a very real sense involving the 99'ers in overseeing the program. This is nothing new. The 99'ers have been involved in important decisions on the WNT for the last 20 years. 

    I am more concerned about the "promotion" of Earnie Stewart from a co-equal GM position to the women's GM to a supervisory position. The timing of the promotiion, coming during the current gender discrimination suit, is troubling. Did they even announce the position and allow any women to apply? Appears to be part of a continuing pattern. Any prudent person would not have made this move at this time in this manner.

  6. R2 Dad, August 13, 2019 at 12:03 p.m.

    I've liked her as an analyst on ESPN, but she was a Defender. That may sound like a minor issue but when transitioning to a more technical and skilled game this is not the mentality that will get the USWNT there unless she is an excellent manager and student of the men's game. More of the same is not going to cut it anymore.  

  7. Bob Ashpole, August 13, 2019 at 12:17 p.m.

    The USSF website says that Stewart well not report directly to the CEO. While it isn't clear, apparently he has replaced the management committee, since USSF says this is streamlined.

    Here is my problem with it. I will use a hypothetical business to take gender out of the picture. This is a situation where a company has two divisions, one that is the best performer in the world and one that has been underperformed for a long time, and fail to meet minimum goals for the last cycle. Would you take a manager from the failed division and put him in charge of the highly successful division?

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, August 13, 2019 at 12:19 p.m.

    Automatic Spellcheck hit again. "well not report" should read "will now report". I just had a windows update. I will have to check my settings.

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