U.S. Soccer crisis deepens as Stewart, top team officials step down
Miami, Jan 26, 2023 (AFP) - The United States men's national team, already without a permanent coach, was plunged further into turmoil on Thursday with both the federation's Sporting Director and the national team General Manager quitting their jobs.
Sporting Director Earnie Stewart is leaving to join Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and General Manager Brian McBride has stood down from his role, U.S. Soccer said.
National team coach Gregg Berhalter, who guided the team to the last-16 at December's World Cup in Qatar, is out of contract, no longer working with the team and his future remains uncertain.
Berhalter is facing an investigation by the federation for a 1991 domestic violence incident.
The incident came to light following the controversy surrounding Berhalter's tense relationship with Borussia Dortmund player Gio Reyna at the World Cup in Qatar.
U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone told an online press conference that they had now hired a consultancy company to begin a full review of the organisation's sports department.
With vacancies in three top jobs, Parlow Cone said they would take their time to conclude various reviews and make the new appointments.
"We're not going to rush it," she said.
"I know this moment feels a bit uncertain for you in the media, for our staff, for players. What it actually is a clean canvas," she added.
U.S. Soccer CEO J.T. Batson said the Berhalter saga had not had any impact on the decisions of Stewart and McBride to leave the organisation.
The United States, along with Mexico and Canada, will host the World Cup in 2026 but rather than begin building on the progress made by the promising young team, the federation now must find key personnel and deal with the fall-out of the Berhalter-Reyna row.
Parlow Cone, who said she would like a new head coach in place "by the end of summer" said the departures allowed the federation to assess its direction.
World Cup conflict
"We did not plan it this way but we find ourselves in this position and we're going to take the opportunity to really do a deep dive on our sporting side to make sure we're as effective and as efficient as possible, because we have grand vision of where we want to go on the sporting side and we want to make sure we're in the best position to accomplish those goals," she said.
The consultancy firm, Sportsology Group, will help in the search for a new sporting director as well as provide a broader review.
Once appointed, a new sporting director will then hire the next head coach of the team although Sportsology will help analyse possible candidates ahead of time.
Stewart will remain in his job until February 15 and in a statement released by the federation said he had full confidence in the organisation.
"When the opportunity arose to return to the Netherlands to pursue an exciting and challenging role that was near my family, I could not turn it down," said Stewart.
"I am extremely proud of what our sporting department has accomplished over the past four years. This is a pivotal time for the sport in the United States and I have full confidence in the leadership of U.S. Soccer heading into 2026 and beyond," he said.
The conflict between Berhalter and Reyna took a dark turn in early January after US Soccer announced it had launched an investigation into allegations of decades-old domestic violence by Berhalter.
Berhalter admitted in a statement on Twitter to kicking the woman who he would later marry during an argument in 1991.
Later it emerged that US Soccer had been alerted to the incident by Gio Reyna's family. Father Claudio Reyna is a former US captain and team-mate of Berhalter's, while his wife Danielle was a college soccer team-mate of Berhalter's wife Rosalind.
Later on Thursday, Claudio Reyna announced that he was standing down from his role as technical director of Major League Soccer club Austin FC. Reyna will take on an advisory post and said he was looking for "a less all consuming role".
The U.S team, currently being coached on an interim basis by Anthony Hudson, lost 2-1 on Wednesday in a friendly against Serbia in which both countries played under-strength line-ups.