Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart officially met with local and national media on Thursday afternoon, alongside Owner and Chairman Jay Sugarman. Sugarman and Stewart also gave a tour of the Philadelphia Union Training Center, which is under construction and slated for opening in February 2016. Stewart was announced on Oct. 26 and has officially assumed all responsibilities with the Union.
“Since my first conversation with Jay and Richie, I felt a strong energy and had a good feeling about the Union’s potential,” Stewart said. “It has been a long-term goal of mine to return to the United States and as I am working to have a strong understanding of the organization’s DNA, we are developing a plan to build long term success here at the Union.”
After serving a Director of Football Affairs at AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie since June 2010, the Union officially announced Stewart as sporting director on Oct. 26. Under Stewart’s leadership, AZ Alkmaar qualified for the Europa league six consecutive seasons and developed a reputation for customized and innovative player development and recruitment strategies. In 2015, AZ Alkmaar received the Rinus Michels Award for having the best youth academy in Dutch football.
As a player, Stewart served on the U.S. Men’s National Team throughout the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, registering 101 caps for the team from 1990 until he retired in 2005. A regular starter for USA in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups, 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 MLS Cup in 2004.
“We are confident in Earnie’s ability to lead the Union and help build innovative and progressive strategies for the first team, USL team and our academy,” Sugarman said. “We look forward to this new chapter and seeing Earnie’s long term impact on our club.”
Stewart joins the Union in time for the 2015 offseason transfer window, as free agency officially opened Tuesday, Dec. 8. Starting tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m., Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft will begin at 3 p.m. The following week, Thursday, Dec. 17, will be Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft.