Earnie Stewart departs U.S. Soccer: It gets 'a clean canvas' but lots more uncertainty

U.S. Soccer has been without a men's national team head coach since Gregg Berhalter's contract expired at the end of December.

His future was put on hold while the federation conducted a review of the cycle that ended with the 2022 World Cup and an independent investigation was conducted into an incident in 1991 when he kicked his now-wife and how the information of those events when they were college freshmen came to the federation.

Brian McBride's contract as men's national team general manager also expired at the end of 2022. It was not renewed -- he said he made the decision in October to seek a "new challenge" -- and he will stay on through January before departing.

Now ...

U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart, who hired Berhalter in 2018 and McBride in 2020, will depart on Feb. 15 to take a position as director of soccer affairs at PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where he grew up and his family lives.

That leaves U.S. Soccer without a sporting director to hire a new men's national team head coach or new men's national team general manager. The federation has hired Sportsology Group to head the search for a new sporting director and review of the entire sporting department.

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone on a media call on Thursday morning said she hoped to have the sporting director in place prior to the Women's World Cup (July 20-Aug. 20) and would then work with the sporting director to "join me in leading that search" for a new men's national team head coach.

"We would like to have our new GM and our men's national team coach in place by the end of the summer," she added. "As for the GM role, we're going to be working together with Sportsology to evaluate our entire sporting department. And once we have more clarity on what that department should look like moving forward, we'll determine the leadership and support that is needed."

Anthony Hudson is the acting men's national team coach for the two January matches — the USA lost to Serbia, 2-1, on Wednesday night in Los Angeles — and will likely remain in place through the summer. On the women's side, Vlatko Andonovski is the head coach of the national team and Kate Markgraf is the women's national team general manager ahead of the World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand.

Stewart was hired from the Philadelphia Union in 2018 to fill the newly created position of men's national team general manager. He was moved into the new role of sporting director to oversee the sporting department in 2019 at the same time as Markgraf was hired following the Women's World Cup in France.

"This isn't the process that we chose to go down," Cone said of the new departures. But she added: "I know this moment feels a bit uncertain, for you in the media, for our staff, for players. What it actually is is a clean canvas."

U.S. Soccer's leadership has been overhauled in recent years. It has had two presidents since Sunil Gulati decided not to run for a fourth and final four-year term in 2018, and it hired two CEOs since Dan Flynn's departure after almost 20 years in his position in September 2019. JT Batson was hired to replace Will Wilson as CEO four months ago.

In his remarks in recent weeks, Batson has emphasized how impressed he's been with the federation staff in place.

"We have a sophisticated leadership team broadly and we have a sophisticated leadership team of our sporting department," he assured the media on Thursday morning.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer outlined the sporting leadership team that will report directly to Batson:

• Markgraf
• Barry Pauwels, Senior Director of Technical Development
• Elaine Lemos, Director of Sporting Operations
• Tom King, Managing Director of Administration
• Rick Cost, Director of High Performance
• Dan Russell, Senior Director of Sport Development
• Dr. George Chiampas, Chief Medical Officer

Still, Stewart's departure leaves the position of men's national team head coach up in the air for months, just as it was in 2018 when a decision on Bruce Arena's successor was delayed until after Gulati's successor (Carlos Cordeiro) was elected and  the new position of USMNT GM was filled (Stewart).

It was almost four years from the date of Berhalter's hiring as USMNT head coach until the start of the 2022 World Cup. It will likely be less than three years from when the USMNT head coach is in place — Berhalter or his successor — and the 2026 World Cup — which the USA will co-host — starts.

That would make the time frame for having a head coach in place within the 2026 World Cup cycle more than a year shorter than it was for Qatar when the hiring delay — and the circumstances of Berhalter's selection — came in for heavy criticism.

There's one big difference, though. The USA didn't qualify for Russia 2018; it qualified for the 2022 World Cup and reached the knockout stage in Qatar.

There was considerable urgency to begin the rebuilding process ahead of qualifying for Qatar (whose start was eventually delayed due to Covid). Yes, there will be two tournaments — Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup — at which the USMNT will likely have an acting head coach in charge, but the foundation of the 2026 World Cup team is at least in place and qualifying won't be an issue.

The work on preparing the USMNT for 2026 will begin in earnest next year when it's expected to compete in the Copa America, which will be the most competitive event it will play in ahead of the World Cup.

That gives U.S. Soccer a little breathing room to get a head coach up and running. But it will do nothing to alleviate the load on the federation's young leadership — Cone and Batson — as it tries to build on the momentum of the success of the 2022 World Cup in showcasing the USMNT and jump-start the task of preparing for and taking advantage of the opportunity to boost American soccer that organizing the World Cup provides.

Photo: Earnie Stewart (left) and Brian McBride in March 2022. Credit: ISI Photos.

20 comments about "Earnie Stewart departs U.S. Soccer: It gets 'a clean canvas' but lots more uncertainty".
  1. John Richardson, January 26, 2023 at 2:53 p.m.

    And GGG goes away gracefully, as Gio scores another game winning goal !

  2. James Madison, January 26, 2023 at 4:44 p.m.

    WOW!  GB is apparently not going to be continued.  What a disaster!

  3. Bob Ashpole, January 26, 2023 at 5:28 p.m.

    This is actually great news IMO. Because of the power vacuum Kate Markgraf will be a real manager instead of a token figurehead. This will also give Cone more influence. Indirectly this gives the USWNT alumni more influence (former players and coaches).

    On the men's side: why is USSF once again unprepared to hire a new MNT coach?

    On the Sportsology consultant, managers of organizations tend to hire consultants who are expected to recommend what the managers want to do. Managers who actually want advice are rare as hen's teeth. I rate this as a zero for progress.

  4. Santiago 1314 replied, January 26, 2023 at 6:12 p.m.

    Best Wishes... And Don't let the door hit you on the way out.!!!
    Hiring GGG.!?!?!?  Stewart should have been FIRED then.

  5. Mike Calcaterra, January 27, 2023 at 12:28 a.m.

    This is not about Berhalter, it is about corporate governance.  Good luck finding quality candidates.  Everyone is going to climb all over themselves to join an organization which launches a massive investigation into their employees for a misbehavior, reported by a disgruntled player mommy, that occurred over 31 years ago. He did a bad thing. He kicked his girlfriend in 1991. She accepted his apology, and they have been ever married since. I get wanting him gone - that is an employer's prerogative, but have enough character to do it forthrightly. Pathetic.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, January 27, 2023 at 5:47 a.m.

    Berhalter is not an employee. His contract ended in 2022.

  7. Santiago 1314, January 27, 2023 at 9:40 a.m.

    Both Ernie and Brian made a Mistake of "taking" Calls from Reyna Peeps during the WC...
    Sorry, Friendship is One Thing... The WORLD CUP is Another.!!!
    And Their JOB was THE WORLD CUP.!!! 
    They were Taking a Paycheck from One Group and "Talking" with Another Group.
    CONFLICT of Interest... Reyna's should have Know better also... Cost some People their Job.

  8. Michael Tesla, January 27, 2023 at 10:46 a.m.

    Remember, Gio scored two goals coming off the bench! Sound familiar?

  9. David Borts, January 27, 2023 at 11:01 a.m.

    One Word Only. CHAOS!

  10. Wilson Cartagena, January 27, 2023 at 12:20 p.m.

    TIME IS OF ESSENCE!!!!! the USMNT needs a coach immediately ...why take for granted that USA is one of the hosts for 2026 world cup.The team the players need to be together along e I th the coach GB should be reinstated as the Head Coach and keep on moving n g with the PLAN!!!! why deal with menial situations that happened decades ago!!!!!.

  11. humble 1, January 27, 2023 at 12:37 p.m.

    Calm here.  Sky not falling.  For me, their time was over.  The Reyna mess the wrong cap on it, but, we got the right result, thank you for your work, best of luck in your next adventure.  We have a bumper crop of young players in good situations abroad, back in the WC, got thru the group, beat Mexico several times along the way.  Not bad.  I trust Parlow-Cone and her team to work thru this.  Lite compared to what they have navigated prevously.  To be fair, I am watching the Uruguay U20s play in South American Championship tournament, we have nothing like this in the USA, we really should be pushing to get our YN boys and girls to play in South America as much as we can.  Our boys are still behind in almost every measure the little nation of Uruguay, even though they did not get out of their WC group (they were hosed big time) with 3M habitants so lots of work, not just at USSF, but also for the many dedicated soccer professionals on the front lines of youth, HS, college and pro soccer.  Keep it going all of you!  USSF - take us to the next level on our men's side!  

  12. Santiago 1314 replied, January 27, 2023 at 9:23 p.m.

    Where you watching the Games On... I can't find it anywhere.???

  13. humble 1 replied, January 28, 2023 at 12:17 p.m.

    youtube, live. 

  14. Kevin Leahy, January 27, 2023 at 4:53 p.m.

    Am glad the house is being cleaned. Don't believe that Earnie Stewart's position is necessary. With the executive board why, do we need to hire an outside outfit to find people? The same for the law firm to investigate GB? There is no way possible for him to continue! Hope you weren't serious Wilson. Please go to Hugo Perez with your hat in your hand. He knows most of these players well.We will never know all the nuts and bolts of what was said to Gio by GB or what was said to any of the players when they arrived for the WC. There is a lot that doesn't pass the sniff test. Get rid of all the layers and move on.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, January 30, 2023 at 2:01 a.m.

    The purpose of creating the new position was to prevent the WNT GM from managing the WNT program.

  16. James Madison, January 27, 2023 at 6:18 p.m.

     Both an organizational and a public relations disaster.  WHY is everyone leavig?.]  WHY has GB apparently been fired, but that is not being said directly? WHAT are the specificresponsibilities of all these fuzzily-named staff positions that that report to Batson? WHO'S going to do what to keep the USMNT program on track? WHY does the GB invetigation take more than two or three weeks?  WHY can't Conwe talk plainly?  In short, what a bloody mess!!!

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, January 30, 2023 at 2:03 a.m.

    GB wasn't fired. His contract ended in 2022. The investigation is just for PR.

  18. Jeff Toonkel, January 27, 2023 at 7:06 p.m.

    Great to see Cindy Parlow seek to improve the USSF organizational structure and better define  individual responsibilities before any additional hirings! Bravo!

  19. Santiago 1314 replied, January 27, 2023 at 9:30 p.m.

    She is the President;
    She should "Take Charge"
    I think she RIGHTLY Has "Moved Out" the Staff from the Previous "Administration"... 
    She should have the Chance to Appoint HER Staff.
    Then She should be Held "Accountable" in the Next Election for their Results...
    Elections have Consequences, and I Do Not think she is "Up" for the Job, but, I HOPE I am Wrong.

  20. humble 1 replied, January 30, 2023 at 10:47 a.m.

    It is completely normal that there be turnover after a WC.  In fact we are a little behind other nations that participated in the WC, a good number of coaches resigned right after or during the WC.  The fact is the players are developed/developing at their clubs/universities, not in our MNT.   The MNT puts a team together and they are very dependant on the players that are available to them.  In this respect, the work of Stewart and McBride, and yes, Berharlter to help player find clubs and develop, while not playing for or training with MNT was very important.  Likewise, it is our YNT stability and excellence that will feed our future MNT, and here likewise, the development work at our clubs/academies/HS's is what they, the YNT depend on.  In the middle are our U23s, the Olympic group, getting them a good coach, and staff is important for the continued growth of the players eligible for the MNT.  Trees grow from their roots.  Have a nice day.   

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications