Union sporting director Earnie Stewart interviews for U.S. national team general manager job

The Union confirmed Friday that sporting director Earnie Stewart was interviewed for the U.S. men’s national team’s new general manager position. The interview took place a few weeks ago.

News of the interview was first reported Thursday on Major League Soccer’s website. The team had no further comment beyond what was reported. A U.S. Soccer spokesperson said the federation is looking to make its decision in the near future.

It is not surprising that Stewart drew the U.S. Soccer Federation’s interest. Stewart played 101 times for the national team from 1990 to 2004, including at the 1994, 1998, and 2002 World Cups. He was born in the Netherlands as the son of an American serviceman and spent most of his club career in that country.

Stewart joined the Union’s front office in October 2015 after former president Nick Sakiewicz was ousted. Prior to coming here, Stewart held important personnel jobs with Dutch clubs NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar. In the latter position, he helped bring American strikers Jozy Altidore and Aron Jóhannsson to prominence.

The national team GM position was created in the wake of the Americans’ failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. It moves the head coach hiring decision (and the firing decision) from the hands of the president to someone with a stronger soccer background.

Former president Sunil Gulati handpicked Jurgen Klinsmann, then fired him in 2016 and brought Bruce Arena back to the helm. New president Carlos Cordeiro, elected in February, has said he doesn’t want that type of role.

In part because of that, the GM will report to U.S. Soccer chief executive officer Dan Flynn, not Cordeiro. Any potential coaching hire will require the formal approval of the federation’s board of directors.

Other reported candidates for the national team GM job include Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerway and former New York Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis.

There will also be a general manager hired for the women’s national team. That person will have the same powers as the men’s GM and will also report to Flynn and the board.