U.S. general manager Earnie Stewart aims to name new coach by end of 2018
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- U.S. men's national team GM Earnie Stewart says he has completed developing a profile for the next manager, will begin the interview process soon, and hopes to fill the position by the end of the year.
Stewart conducted a roundtable with reporters ahead of Friday's friendly against Brazil. He said he developed the managerial profile based on discussions with 15-20 stakeholders within the U.S. soccer community. He also said between six and eight coaches had reached out to him to inquire about the job either personally or through their agents, though he reiterated he has not conducted any interviews. He declined to identify who had talked to.
"It's important that you have a set profile of the head coach, what kind of characteristics you need to have," said Stewart. "That starts with the values of the American player and what U.S. soccer is about.
"It's not about Earnie's coach or anything like that. It's about having a coach that is good for U.S. soccer and where we want to go to."
Stewart stressed that the profile has nothing to do with strategy, formations or systems, but more identifying what is the American player and what does he want to see on the field.
"There's been a lot of talk about the style of play," Stewart said. "We've had a lot of conversations about that, what to call that. When you look at it, it's more style of play, principles of play, it's an overarching view of soccer and the values that we have in the U.S., how we want to identify with our team that you see on the field. That is something that is almost come to a finish."
When asked what the profile consisted of, Stewart didn't delve too deeply into specifics. He did say that proficiency in English was a requirement. That would appear to eliminate Atlanta United manager Tata Martino. When asked if knowledge of MLS and CONCACAF was needed he said that was "a plus" but not necessarily a must-have. The same was true of having previous national team coaching experienced. He added that the manager would need to be willing to take a collaborative approach.
"It's somebody that has to have a 'we' mentality, who wants to work together," he said. "That's important. In this day and age I don't think one person can do the whole job, especially a country as big as this."
Stewart added that he won't interview a long list of candidates.
"That's why the profile is set," he said. "What I believe in is you sit down with the person that you want, then you have discussions with them; long and very hard discussions. Then it works or it doesn't work. But it's not like I'm going to have eight people sitting there and then make a choice from that.
"From a profile, a style of play, all those things, there will be somebody that jumps out in everybody's mind...you will sit down with that candidate. That's very clear. You'll find out with everything we've already put in place and the characteristics if that all meets. It could be that it is one candidate."
Stewart confirmed that the interview process will involve himself, chief sport development officer Nico Romeijn and chief soccer officer Ryan Mooney. They will then make a recommendation to the USSF Board of Directors.
As for style of play, again, Stewart declined to get into specifics beyond that there will be an aggressiveness to the U.S. team, and that analytics will be used to evaluate how well that style is being adhered to.
"Make sure that subjective-ness meets the objectiveness," he said. "I think the more information you have the better it is. That is important."
That said, Stewart said he wouldn't be micromanaging the new head coach.
"I'm never on the field, that's the best way to say it," he said. "Game day, I'm never on the field. That's the staff, systems, formations, strategy, free kicks, that is his responsibility. Mine are off the field. Nothing is black and white. We'll use each other. A lot of minds will be better than only one mind."
Stewart confirmed a Yahoo Sports report that the coach and his entire staff will be based in Chicago, and the same will eventually be true for all the coaches on the women's side as well as youth national teams.
"The culture I belive in is sitting face to face and talking about situations, formations, style, strategy and getting the most out of each other," he said.
Columbus Crew SC manager Gregg Berhalter is believed to be the frontrunner for the job, but Stewart pushed back on the idea that he and Berhalter are friends, indicating that their relationship -- which includes time spent together playing for the U.S. national team -- is more professional in nature. He also denied that Berhalter is a shoe-in for the post, and stated that USSF CCO Jay Berhalter, the brother of Gregg Berhalter, will have no role in the hiring process.
"[Berhalter] and I played together, and communicated with each other, but 'friends' is a little overboard I'd want to say," he said. "When Gregg was coaching in Sweden he would call me for advice, and vice versa...Then again, I can say that about a lot of others at the same time."
Stewart said that the new manager would not have a role in naming the manager of the U.S. U-23 team that will attempt to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. That will fall under the purview of Stewart, Romeijn, and USSF youth technical director Tab Ramos.
It now seems likely that a full year will have gone by from the time that the U.S. was eliminated from World Cup qualifying until a new manager is named. Stewart insists the process that has been undertaken is "normal" given that the USSF wanted to put a GM in place first. He also said he wouldn't be rushed into making a decision.
"I want to make the right choice and not a choice that is hasty," he said. "I don't know what exactly I can say to [fans] more than the fact that I'm putting in a lot of thought together with some other people, that we're making the right choice for the future."