Earnie Stewart, Brian McBride leave U.S. Soccer

One day after the opening of what is probably the biggest World Cup cycle in its history, the US soccer association is without a sports director and without a general manager or coach for its men’s national team.

The federation announced on Thursday that sporting director Earnie Stewart will return to the Netherlands as director of football for legendary Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, while Brian McBride, general manager for the men’s national team program, has stepped down after three seasons.

The men’s team has been without a permanent head coach since Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired in late 2022, and federation president Cindy Parlow Cone said in a conference call on Thursday that the position could remain open into the summer, with caretaker coach Anthony Hudson in charge of Nations League games in March and June and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which ends in July.

She said she hopes the federation will have a new sporting director ahead of the Women’s World Cup, which begins in July.

But she balked at the idea that US soccer was in disarray less than 3½ years before the World Cup returned to North America.

“This is an opportunity for us to take a more holistic view and determine how we can most effectively and efficiently move forward,” Cone said in a Zoom call with reporters. “Although he certainly didn’t plan it that way, this presents us with a great opportunity.

“I know this moment feels a bit uncertain for you in the media, for our staff and for the players. What it actually is is a clean canvas.”

According to Cone, US Soccer has hired Sportsology Group, a New York-based consulting firm that works with sports franchises and leagues to fill senior leadership positions and redefine their operating strategies.

Earnie Stewart

Earnie Stewart is leaving his position as sporting director of US Soccer to return to the Netherlands as football director of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.

(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Brian McBride

After three seasons, Brian McBride has stepped down as general manager of the US soccer men’s national team.

(Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press)

JT Batson, US Soccer’s chief executive and general secretary, insisted the departures of McBride and Stewart were unrelated to the controversy surrounding Berhalter’s future with the team.

“No impact at all,” he said.

After last year’s World Cup in Qatar, international player Gio Reyna’s mother, upset by some of Berhalter’s comments about her son, called Stewart to tell him about a 31-year physical altercation between Berhalter and his future wife. In response, US Soccer hired an Atlanta law firm to investigate the 1991 incident.

Stewart, McBride and Berhalter were all teammates in two US World Cup squads captained by Gio’s father Claudio.

Instead, Batson said, the moves had more to do with opportunity and timing. Stewart’s family stayed in the Netherlands when he took the job of sporting director at US Soccer four years ago and the chance to reunite with them was too good to pass up, so the federation let him out of one contract extension that ran until 2026. He will stay with US Soccer until February 15 and then start his new job on March 1.

McBride, meanwhile, told US Soccer he was planning to leave ahead of the World Cup in Qatar last fall. Cone said she wasn’t sure McBride would be replaced.

Although the association continues to review candidates for the open men’s coaching job, Stewart’s replacement will be hired. Berhalter, who has the highest win rate for a men’s coach in US soccer history, remains in contention for the job.

“At this point, nothing has changed on that front. Gregg remains a candidate,” Cone said.

However, the ground beneath him may have shifted. Stewart has been a vocal supporter of Berhalter’s work, and a new athletic director may feel the need to break with his predecessor and hire his own coach.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/story/2023-01-26/gregg-berhalter-usmnt-earnie-stewart-brian-mcbride-world-cup-2026 Earnie Stewart, Brian McBride leave U.S. Soccer

Emma Bowman

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