Union Hire Hall of Famer Earnie Stewart as First Sporting Director
Earnie Stewart, who played for the United States men’s national team for 14 years, has been named the Philadelphia Union’s new sporting director. He’ll begin his job on January 1st.
Stewart is a familiar name to fans of U.S. soccer, as he made 101 appearances for the national team from 1990 to 2004. He was elected to the U.S. soccer Hall of Fame in 2011. The midfielder was on the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cup squads, and he scored the game-winner in the United States’ 2-1 upset of Colombia in the 1994 World Cup.
“I am thrilled with the opportunity to come to the Philadelphia Union and help create a winning team which the fans can identify with,” Stewart said in a release. “I look forward to working with everyone at the Union to establish a clear playing philosophy and use my experience to create a competitive edge in our methods of recruiting and developing players at all levels of the club, from the Academy up through the First Team. From the first moment I spoke with the Union about the direction they wanted to go I was excited about the long term opportunity and my ability to help execute on our shared vision.”
A soccer club’s sporting director oversees all soccer and technical-related decisions for the team, including its youth academy and its USL affiliate (which begins play in the Lehigh Valley next year). Stewart is pretty much the equivalent of a general manager. The Union also have a technical director, Chris Albright, who in the past has worked with the coach on player selection. Stewart is the team’s first sporting director.
Earnie, as far back as 2012, had said one of his goals in life was to come back and have an impact in the U.S. soccer-scape,” Union owner Jay Sugarman said. “To really come back and do something special for a country that he played for and clearly has deep feelings for. Wanted to help us succeed and also help U.S. soccer continue to grow. So that was really important to me. I wanted somebody who took that commitment seriously, who was willing to make a long-term commitment to the Union but also… grow the entire sport in the U.S.”
Aside from a two-season stint with D.C. United in the early 2000s, Stewart spent his career playing in the Netherlands — mostly for Willem II and NAC Breda. He was born in the Netherlands to a U.S. Air Force airman and his Dutch wife.
Stewart is currently the director of football affairs at Dutch club AZ. He’ll finish out the year there before coming to Chester.
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