Philadelphia Union announced on Monday that it has agreed to terms with Earnie Stewart to take over as the club’s Sporting Director, effective January 1, 2016.
As Sporting Director, Stewart will oversee and guide all Union technical and soccer-related decisions working closely with the Union First Team, USL team and Youth Academy. This technical leadership role is one the former U.S. National team and three time World Cup veteran knows well from his current role as Director of Football Affairs at AZ Alkmaar, a club he has guided to Europa League qualification the last six consecutive seasons. Under Stewart’s technical guidance AZ has developed a reputation for its innovation, player recruitment, and player development methodology. In 2015, AZ Alkmaar was honored with the Rinus Michels Award for having the best youth academy in Dutch football.
“In searching for a Sporting Director, we defined specific criteria we were looking for a candidate to fulfill. Earnie rated highly on all our key metrics. His understanding of the international soccer landscape and viewpoint on Major League Soccer, combined with his experience in player development and strong work ethic, make Earnie an excellent fit for this important role,” said Philadelphia Union Owner Jay Sugarman. “Earnie’s long-term vision and desire to positively impact soccer in the United States aligns closely with our vision for the Philadelphia Union and we are excited to welcome him back to the USA and put him in a position to drive the Union to long term success.”
Stewart was a staple for the U.S. Men’s National Team throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s, registering 101 caps for the team from 1990 until he retired in 2005. He was a regular starter for USA in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups and his 111 goals as a professional in the Netherlands make him the highest-scoring American in international club play. Stewart also played in MLS during the 2003 and 2004 seasons and was a member of the D.C. United team that won the MLS Cup in 2004.
“I am thrilled with the opportunity to come to the Philadelphia Union and help create a winning team which the fans can identify with. 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. I would like to thank AZ for giving me the chance to follow my ambition in coming back to the United States and I remain committed to fulfilling my duties here at AZ Alkmaar through the end of the year,” said Stewart. “I will work my hardest to hit the ground running for the Union and be ready for the important decisions the club will make entering the 2016 season.”