KENYA BROWN - Saturday, June 9, 2018
Former US men's national team forward Earnie Stewart has been appointed its first general manager, US Soccer announced on Wednesday after an extensive search.
Stewart becomes the first person appointed to the post after the US Soccer Board of Directors created it in the wake of the team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the heightened calls for change. He is set to start his new job on August 1 which means he will step down from his current position as sporting director for the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer.
The 49-year-old brings a wealth of experience into the job from the playing side and as a front office executive in the Dutch Eredivisie with VVV Venlo, NAC Breda, and AZ Alkmaar.
At a teleconference held on Wednesday to announce Stewart's appointment, US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro was in firm belief that they picked the right man for the job.
"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. 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," he said.
Stewart, for his part, said the opportunity to work at the highest level in soccer in the country was something that he could not pass up.
"Having played for the U.S. men's national team and seeing what the capabilities and possibilities were in the United States, this was something where I wanted to jump on board. My ultimate goal was to be at the top of the pyramid at some point in my career to help soccer in the United States," he said in an interview on the US Soccer website.
With the retired forward entering into the new position, he said that finding a permanent head coach for the team was his top priority as they look to restore themselves among the top teams in the CONCACAF region.
"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," said Stewart.
Stewart also emphasized improving the scouting system as it has come under scrutiny, especially with its failure to keep tabs on players such as Jonathan Gonzalez who has gone on to make theone-time switch to play for Mexico.
"First and foremost, it's very important when we scout our players that we know exactly what they're about. Creating a style and a culture where everybody understands their role and their responsibilities within the way we play is very important to getting results, whether at home or on the road," he said. "The scouting process means going to see these players, sit down with them, talk about their ambitions, their endeavors, and quite frankly, what they're good in, what they're not so good in and see if we can help in that regard."
With the task at hand on getting the national team back on track and a host of promising young players coming through, Stewart has set high ambitions that could hopefully lead to the biggest prize on offer in the future.
"My ultimate goal for the US men's national team is to become a world champion at some point in the future. I'm not saying that that needs to happen in four years, but making sure that we create this great big player pool, together in the landscape of the United States from academies to MLS and also our players that are in foreign countries, that gets us into a place where we are a country that needs to be reckoned with. I think we already are. I think we've come a long way. After all these years, people recognize us and what our capabilities are," he said.