Southampton’s director of football operations Matt Crocker is set to become the US Football Association’s next athletic director, sources told ESPN.
The Athletic was the first to report the news and a formal announcement is expected sometime this week.
Crocker succeeds Earnie Stewart, who officially left the USSF in February to take up the role of director of football at Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven.
The hiring opens the door for the USFF to focus its full attention on hiring a permanent head coach for the United States men’s soccer team. Early in the search for Stewart’s replacement, USSF officials said an athletic director would be installed before hiring the next coach.
In February, Crocker was involved in talks between Southampton and Jesse Marsch about their managerial vacancy following the departure of Nathan Jones. Marsch was fired by Premier League club Leeds United on February 6.
Crocker meets many criteria in relation to what the USSF expects of a candidate, having worked in youth development at Southampton and helping build Southampton’s women’s team. That fits in with the athletic director’s brief set last month by USSF CEO JT Batson, who said the person will remain in charge of the USSF national teams – all 27, including the youth teams – and will set technical vision and still oversee talent identification.
Sources told ESPN that the trial was led by Batson and USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone, with board members Juan Uro and Patti Hart also being involved. The process also included voices from outside the USSF, including LAFC co-president John Thorrington and Washington Spirit GM Mark Krikorian.
Crocker had held his current post at Southampton since February 2020 but it was announced last December that he would leave the club at the end of the season. His responsibilities at Saints included overseeing the club’s overarching philosophy regarding matters on the pitch, including the club’s strategy and culture.
Crocker was responsible for creating a catalog of training sessions to be used at the academy level, dubbed “The SFC Playbook” to provide a common approach as players progress through the system through to first-team.
Prior to his current role at Southampton, Crocker spent seven years with the Football Association of England, where he was head of development teams. He has been responsible for guiding the journey for all England youth teams from U15 to U20, including national team manager, team operations, player education and coach education.
Crocker was at Southampton from 2006 to 2013 where he ran the club’s academy. During his time there, players like Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse came through and made it into the first team.