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Sporting director Earnie Stewart, GM Brian McBride depart U.S. Soccer

U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart and men’s national team general manager Brian McBride are leaving the organization, the federation announced on Thursday.

The Netherlands-born Stewart will take a job with Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven, according to the USSF, which said McBride informed them of his plans to leave his post prior to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. McBride’s departure was expected; multiple sources told FOX Sports last week that the former U.S. striker wouldn’t return to his role. The news regarding Stewart is more surprising. On a hastily arranged Zoom call with reporters Thursday, U.S. Soccer CEO J.T. Batson said that the USSF only knew that Stewart leaving was a possibility “for a couple of weeks.”

“Earnie informed us of this opportunity, and this was one that both J.T. and I just really understood why this was something that he couldn’t turn down,” USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone said. “It was an opportunity for him on a very personal level to be near to his family and to return home, and we agreed to let him out of his contract.”

Stewart’s deal ran through 2026; McBride’s expired after the World Cup. The latter signed a short-term extension until the end of this month. The former will remain with U.S. Soccer through Feb. 15 “to ensure a smooth transition as U.S. Soccer continues its search for its next sporting director,” the federation’s news release read.

U.S. Soccer has retained consulting firm Sportsology Group to aid in that search. Parlow Cone said the hope is that Stewart’s replacement will be in place before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in July.

The new sporting director will lead the search for the next USMNT coach. Interim boss Anthony Hudson, who presided over Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly loss to Serbia in the men’s first match of the year, will remain in charge until then.

Asked if 2022 World Cup coach Gregg Berhalter is still under consideration to return to his post, as Stewart said on Jan. 4, Parlow Cone insisted nothing on that front had changed. “Gregg remains a candidate,” she said. Berhalter led the Americans to the round of 16 in Qatar following an undefeated first round. They were eliminated in the knockout stage by the Netherlands.

Alexi Lalas on Gregg Berhalter’s situation

Alexi Lalas on Gregg Berhalter's situation

Lalas explains why he is frustrated that Gregg Berhalter likely won’t be able to manage the United States in preparation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

However, the departure of Stewart, who hired Berhalter in 2018, would seem to significantly diminish the chances that Berhalter will be back. An independent investigation into a 1991 instance of domestic violence involving Berhalter and his now wife, which was reported to Stewart last month by the mother of midfielder Gio Reyna, continues.

Hired as the first GM in USMNT history in the wake of the men’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Stewart moved into the sporting director role overseeing both the men’s and women’s programs in 2019. Before joining U.S. Soccer, Stewart held similar jobs with the Philadelphia Union MLS and Dutch clubs NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar. McBride, the fifth-leading scorer in USMNT history, replaced Stewart as GM in early 2020.

Berhalter, McBride, Stewart and Claudio Reyna – Gio’s father – were teammates on the U.S. team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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