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Stewart hired as first U.S. national team general manager

Since his retirement as a player, former U.S. national team legend Earnie Stewart has served a major technical role in four different clubs - both in Holland and the United States. Now he will be looking to be in charge of reviving the U.S. team. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 06, 2018
10:05 AM
AFTER MONTHS OF speculation, it is of little surprise that Earnie Stewart has been named the first general manager of the United States men’s national team. U.S. Soccer created the position following the failure of the team to qualify for the World Cup and Stewart will formally take the job on August 1.

It is easy to see why Stewart was selected. In addition to being a three-time World Cup veteran with over 100 caps for the U.S. national team, he also has 12 years of technical leadership with VVV Venlo, NAC Breda, AZ Alkmaar, and the Philadelphia Union.

Following his retirement, he took the sporting director job with VVV Venlo in 2005. He moved into the same position a year later at NAC Breda on May 14, 2006. In June 2010 he was named director of football affairs at AZ Alkmaar where he remained until October 2015 when he took over as the technical director for the Philadelphia Union

Now he will be looking revive the U.S. national team and run the overall program.

“My responsibilities as a general manager are focused on the U.S. Men’s National Team,” Stewart said.
“Everything that has to do with the team, from the scouting process to getting players into camp together with the head coach of the National Team. We want to make sure there’s a clear process of our style of play, that there’s a clear process of the way we want to play and make sure that we win games.”

Of course, the most pressing issue facing Stewart is the hiring of the next U.S. national team head coach. After Bruce Arena stepped down in November, the team has been led by interim head coach Dave Sarachan.

The U.S. team does not have meaningful games until next summer’s Gold Cup but Stewart believes that hiring the next coach should be done soon but also that the federation needs to do its due diligence.

“As quick as possible,” Stewart said on when he wants to have the next head coach named. “I think the head coach is the most important person within the National Team. He's the man on the sideline. He's the man that selects the players and he's the man after the game that stands in front of the nation and tells them what they have just seen. I think that's very important. As we had the process in getting a General Manager, I think a similar process needs to take place for a head coach. We’ll do our due diligence. It’s very important to make sure we make the right choice.”

While in Europe, Stewart showed that he was ready to make tough decisions. In 2013, AZ Alkmaar was having a good start to the season. But at the end of September after an impressive victory over PSV, Stewart and the club’s board fired manager Gertjaan Verbeek saying they were not satisfied with the chemistry between the coaches and the players.

Several former U.S. players echoed their support on Wednesday.

“Earnie’s successes on the playing field and now off the field are not a surprise to any of us who know him or have played with him,” said Landon Donovan. “He is extremely hard working, intelligent, passionate, and liked and respected by all. Just as important, he has a tremendous amount of pride in representing the United States. We all have full confidence that Earnie is the right person to be the General Manger and to continue the growth of our National Team.”

Fellow 2002 World Cup teammate Brad Friedel agreed.

“I think it’s a tremendous hire for U.S. Soccer,” said Friedel. “Earnie knows the landscape of soccer everywhere in the world, and most importantly he understands how the U.S operates, the challenges there currently are, and will have great ideas on how to overcome them. He took tremendous pride in representing the program as a player, and will bring that same commitment to his new role.“

The August 1 start date could lead to a smaller pool of candidates since the European preseason is underway and most teams now have coaches and coaches with expired contracts after the World Cup could have found another job.

But more than any head coach candidate, what the team needs is badly is team chemistry and various reports over the past year have suggested a fractured locker room and team culture. And that is what is needed most and will be Stewart’s biggest challenge in the years ahead.

“It starts with our culture,” Stewart 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."

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