- Earnie Stewart, a former U.S. soccer player and experienced soccer executive, has been hired to the role of General Manager of the U.S. Men’s National Team.
- This role was created after the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
- However, the actual duties of this job are unclear but reported to be quite limited, and unlikely to effect real change within the program.
- U.S. Soccer has been heavily resistant to change, with virtually no turnover in personnel despite the disaster of missing out on the World Cup.
U.S. Soccer announced on Wednesday that it had hired former U.S. Men’s National Team player Earnie Stewart to be the first-ever general manager of the U.S.M.N.T., a position that was created after the U.S. failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup.
Stewart is a strong hire. As both a veteran of the U.S. program, but as someone who brings years of experience working in sporting director roles for Dutch soccer clubs, he brings a rare combination of insight into the current U.S. soccer system and outside perspective.
But big question marks are surrounding this general manager job, and whether Stewart or anyone who would have been hired will have the authority to push forward some of the real change that U.S. Soccer desperately needs.
In March, Grant Wahl reported in Sports Illustrated that the position has a somewhat limited scope:
“The newly created U.S. Soccer men’s general manager position has yet to be filled, and multiple sources says the job is being seen as unattractive by many of the people who were originally intended to be targets for it. Those sources say the GM job as it’s designed isn’t nearly powerful enough and doesn’t have any control over youth development.”
Youth development, or the lack thereof, is one of the biggest issues in U.S. Soccer. The failure of the senior team to qualify for the World Cup was preceded by two consecutive failures by the Under-23 Men’s National Team to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. And Major League Soccer remains woefully behindother major first division leagues in giving quality playing time to young talent.
Furthermore, the general manager does not apparently have final say over the head coach, with ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle having reported that, “the GM would research potential candidates, help compile a short list, and be an important part of the interview process, but that the ultimate decision would lie with the USSF Board of Directors.”
In the statement announcing Stewart’s hire, U.S. Soccer did not mention any specific job duties Stewart will now be responsible. Business Insider has reached out to U.S. Soccer asking for specifics of Stewart’s new job.
In that same report from March, Wahl wrote two sources told him, ” . . . they think U.S. Soccer created the [general manager] position to show an angry fanbase it was doing something different when in fact they don’t think the federation wants to make wholesale changes despite missing the 2018 World Cup.”
Indeed, the Federation has made virtually no changes since the absolute disaster of missing out on the World Cup. While long-time U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati did step down from his position, his replacement turned out to be the Federation’s Vice President Carlos Cordeiro. In other words, U.S. Soccer is still run by more or less the same group that oversaw the last failed World Cup qualifying campaign, and that is to whom Stewart will be reporting.
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