It was announced earlier in the week that former U.S. national team veteran, Earnie Stewart, will join the Philadelphia Union as their new sporting director. Stewart is currently the director of football affairs of AZ Alkmaar in the the Dutch Eredivisie.
Stewart was an important part in bringing Alkmaar into the Europa League qualification in their last six seasons. The club also received the Rinus Michels Award for having the best youth academy in Dutch football.
For the 3-time world cup veteran Stewart, this is good news to be sharing with the Philadelphia Union. The Union just unveiled their new USL affiliate this past week, showing that their big focus now is youth development.
Union owner, Jay Sugarman, reflected on this addition to the management:
“In searching for a Sporting Director, we defined specific criteria we were looking for a candidate to fulfill. Earnie rated highly on all our key metrics. His understanding of the international soccer landscape and viewpoint on Major League Soccer, combined with his experience in player development and strong work ethic, make Earnie an excellent fit for this important role. Earnie’s long-term vision and desire to positively impact soccer in the United States aligns closely with our vision for the Philadelphia Union and we are excited to welcome him back to the USA and put him in a position to drive the Union to long term success.”
via ESPN FC.com
This seems to be a turn in the right direction for the Union. For the first time, we can see a set goal that the Union are working towards. And with the addition of Stewart, the Union are in a prime position to develop the club from the bottom up. Though he doesn’t start until 2016, Stewart will have a lot on his hands including the MLS SuperDraft, in which the Union have 3rd overall pick.
Stewart could either mean the success or failure of this team but regardless of that a change had to be made in the front office. Like many, I am hesitant to jump aboard the bandwagon despite his experience on and off the field. Stewart will have a lot to prove in his return to the U.S. and I can’t help but get a little excited as well to find out what he can bring to the table.