Earnie Stewart has opted to leave his post as sporting director for the U.S. men’s national soccer team amid top-down turmoil within the ranks of the Stars and Stripes.
The United States Soccer Federation announced Thursday that Stewart is returning to the Netherlands to join PSV Eindhoven. Stewart will stay on through Feb. 15 “to ensure a smooth transition” to the next sporting director, according to a news release.
U.S. Soccer also formally announced the departure of general manager Brian McBride, saying McBride had informed the organization of his decision to leave prior to the World Cup. Multiple reports surfaced last week that McBride, who will stay on until Jan. 31, had been fired by U.S. Soccer.
Further, head coach Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired after the World Cup in Qatar. Anthony Hudson remains acting head coach until a permanent coach is named.
The U.S. men’s team, therefore, is now without a sporting director, general manager and head coach.
In the release, U.S. Soccer said the new sporting director will “oversee the process of hiring the new USMNT head coach.”
Cindy Parlow Cone, president of U.S. Soccer, said Berhalter is a candidate for the post.
“While we are sad to see Earnie go, he has helped lay a strong foundation and build a strong sporting staff to ensure that the future of U.S. Soccer is bright,” Parlow Cone said in a statement. “Today, we have a unique opportunity to bring in a new Sporting Director to build on this momentum. We are eager to engage new leaders who will match our ambitions and realize our vision for the future, taking our National Teams to the next level, including competing for a FIFA World Cup on home soil in 2026.”
Berhalter came under fire during the World Cup when he surprisingly limited the playing time of Gio Reyna, one of the squad’s most talented players. The coach later unwittingly leaked the news that Reyna was nearly sent home from Qatar for a lack of effort in training, though Reyna later apologized to his teammates for a lack of motivation.
Reyna’s parents, longtime friends of Berhalter, informed Stewart and McBride in December about a domestic-violence incident involving Berhalter and his then-girlfriend, now wife, more than 30 years ago.
That information sparked a U.S. Soccer investigation into the incident, with Stewart saying that Berhalter still could be rehired as the coach depending upon the results of the probe, which is ongoing.
“The decisions of Stewart and McBride were made independently of each other and were not impacted by U.S. Soccer’s process for naming the next USMNT head coach or the ongoing investigation,” U.S. Soccer said in its release.
McBride, 50, Berhalter, 49, and Stewart, 53, were longtime teammates on the USMNT.
–Field Level Media