The American men’s national-team shakeup that began after a public spat erupted between two well-known soccer families accelerated Thursday when sporting director Earnie Stewart announced he is quitting the U.S. Soccer Federation to join PSV Eindhoven.
Men’s general manager Brian McBride also is resigning, leaving coach Gregg Berhalter in limbo following the expiration of his contract on Dec. 31. Berhalter is under investigation for a 1991 domestic-violence incident and Anthony Hudson, one of his assistants, led his first game as interim coach on Wednesday.
USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone said it likely will be many months before the coach situation is sorted out. Sportsology Group, a company that has worked with the Los Angeles Rams and several soccer teams, was hired to lead the sporting-director search, review the sporting department and analyze coach candidates. The sporting director will then make the coach decision.
“We’re hopeful that we can fill these two positions by the end of the summer so that the men’s team has plenty of time in preparation for the World Cup in leading up to 2026,” Cone said. “Gregg remains a candidate.”
Following the Americans’ round of 16 elimination against the Netherlands on Dec. 3, Berhalter told a management conference in New York he nearly sent a player home from Qatar for lack of hustle in training. The remarks clearly were about 20-year-old Gio Reyna, a son of former captain Claudio Reyna and former women’s player Danielle Egan Reyna.
The Reyna parents complained to Stewart and McBride about their son’s lack of playing time in Qatar, where he was limited to a pair of substitute appearances.
Danielle Reyna notified Stewart of a 1991 incident in which Berhalter kicked a woman who later became his wife, Rosalind Santana Berhalter, who was Danielle’s college roommate. The USSF hired the law firm Alston & Bird to investigate in a probe that is ongoing. Berhalter has said, “There are zero excuses for my actions that night.”
Stewart, 53, played for the U.S. at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups and was hired as the first GM of the team in June, 2018, as part of a management reorganization that followed the Americans’ failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Stewart recommended to the board in December, 2018, that Berhalter be hired as coach.
Stewart was elevated to sporting director of the men’s and women’s programs in August, 2019, and McBride, a former American star forward, was hired as GM by Stewart in January, 2020.
McBride said he told the USSF of his planned department in October.
“I didn’t want any of the focus off of the team in the lead-up or during the World Cup,” he said in a statement.
McBride was a candidate for promotion, saying “another opportunity inside the federation arose” during the tournament and “I spent the last month looking into the position.”
“The position has been put on hold for the foreseeable future,” McBride said, “which leads me to this statement.” Stewart informed the USSF board of McBride’s departure last week, which became public. Cone said McBride will leave on Jan. 31 and it is unclear whether he will be replaced.
Stewart, who born in the Netherlands and grew up there, will depart on Feb. 15 to become PSV’s director of football. The USSF is releasing him from his contract, which ran through 2026, and Cone hopes to hire a replacement before the Women’s World Cup opens on July 20.
“This isn’t the process that we chose to go down,” she said. “I know this moment feels a bit uncertain. … What it actually is, is a clean canvas.” Cone, a former women’s player, became USSF president in March, 2020. JT Batson, hired last September as CEO, said the Berhalter investigation had “no impact whatsoever” on the departures. Sporting staff will report to Batson until Stewart is replaced.
Hudson, a former coach of Bahrain and New Zealand, will lead the U.S. against Colombia on Saturday, a pair of CONCACAF Nations League matches in March and likely in June games and the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer. His tenure is much like Dave Sarachan’s appointment as interim coach from October, 2017, until Berhalter was hired.
“On the head coaching job. I will work directly with Sportsology on that to continue to move that search forward,” Cone said. “And then as we bring the sporting director on board, that sporting director will then join me in leading that search. And ultimately, this new sporting director will be tasked with hiring the men’s national-team coach.”