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Earnie Stewart, U.S. Soccer’s sporting director, is leaving his position for the same title at Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
Stewart took over the role in 2019, after the U.S. Men’s National Team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
He had previously served as general manager, and was heavily involved in the coaching search that led to Gregg Berhalter taking the job.
His first mandate as sporting director was to return U.S. Soccer to the World Cup. But the job went much further than that.
After the debacle in 2018, many fans hoped coaching and technical staff would do a much better job of identifying talent early on and locking down caps for important players.
The program certainly improved under Stewart’s tenure, and did reach the 2022 World Cup.
But progress hit an abrupt halt as the USMNT finished up its tournament in the round of 16.
Rumors about disagreements between Gregg Berhalter and star player Gio Reyna ran rampant. Followed by Berhalter’s public reveal of embarrassing information about Reyna.
The two families quickly between the center of a firestorm of drama, complete with blackmail allegations.
READ: GIO REYNA’S DAD CLAUDIO REPORTEDLY TRIED TO BLACKMAIL USMNT COACH GREGG BERHALTER DURING WORLD CUP
That led to an investigation into Berhalter’s past behavior and a statement from U.S. Soccer.
READ: USMNT COACH GREGG BERHALTER RELEASES STATEMENT ON BLACKMAIL ALLEGATIONS AND INVESTIGATION INTO PAST BEHAVIOR
Stewart Departure Means ‘Clean Canvas’ at U.S. Soccer
Stewart’s departure may signal the end of the Gregg Berhalter era as head of the USMNT.
Berhalter’s return was already unlikely, given the fractured relationship between him and Gio Reyna.
But Stewart may have borne some of the blame for how the situation unfolded.
U.S. Soccer president Cindy Barlow Cone seemed to imply that the organization felt it best to start their leadership team from scratch.
While claiming that Berhalter was still a candidate to remain head coach, she also stated that the coming months should be viewed as a “clean canvas.”
It certainly is that, given that the program has no head coach, no technical director and no general manager, just three and a half years before hosting a World Cup.
There’s been progress to celebrate, and the talent level on the USMNT is undoubtedly higher than it was in 2018.
But there’s a lot of work to be done to reach the next rung of the world soccer ladder.
Fans will certainly want to see U.S. Soccer aim higher with new hires. That would show they’re taking the progression towards an elite level seriously.
With a coaching hire expected before the end of the summer, there won’t be too long to wait.