Breaking News / Press release

Official: Earnie Stewart named Union’s Sporting Director

Photo: Courtesy of AZ Alkmaar

On Monday, Philadelphia Union announced it had reached an agreement with Earnie Stewart to be the club’s sporting director, effective January 1, 2016.

Union owner Jay Sugarman said in a statement, “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.”

Stewart said, “I am thrilled with the opportunity to come to the Philadelphia Union and help create a winning team which the fans can identify with. I look forward to working with everyone at the Union to establish a clear playing philosophy and use my experience to create a competitive edge in our methods of recruiting and developing players at all levels of the club, from the Academy up through the First Team. From the first moment I spoke with the Union about the direction they wanted to go I was excited about the long term opportunity and my ability to help execute on our shared vision.”

As sporting director, Stewart, a US men’s national team fixture through the 1990s and early 2000s, “will oversee and guide all Union technical and soccer-related decisions working closely with the Union First Team, USL team and Youth Academy.”

Stewart joins the Union from Eredivisie side AZ, where he has been Director of Football Affairs since June of 2010.

“I would like to thank AZ for giving me the chance to follow my ambition in coming back to the United States, and I remain committed to fulfilling my duties here at AZ Alkmaar through the end of the year,” Stewart said. “I will work my hardest to hit the ground running for the Union and be ready for the important decisions the club will make entering the 2016 season.”



  2. Well the offseason could not have started any better.

  3. Great way to start the offseason!

  4. J in Section 125 says:


  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Yahoo! Earnie Stewart is the new SD, as per a story on on the Union’s website at 8:58 am this morning, Monday, 10/26. There are quotes from Sugarman. He will start January 1st, 2016.
    Speculation: the line-up last night may have had something to do with Stewart being in the stands, if he was, which I consider – on the basis of logic only – likely. So may have the effort the guys put forth in the game.

  6. …and there was much rejoicing.
    Off to a great start. Hopefully the January 1 thing won’t affect the building of the USL team and the other decisions that need to happen before then.
    Pretty stoked, this was a long season.

  7. One small step for man, one giant leap for the Union.
    Welcome, Mr. Stewart!

  8. And tomorrow we will finally get the USL team name we always wanted.

  9. “I look forward to working with everyone at the Union to establish a clear playing philosophy…”
    Might as well be music!

  10. Great stuff. Glad that the ownership group moved so quickly to get the new SD in place.

    • Quickly, QUICKLY, you got to be kidding me that have been looking for someone now for over 2 years. Quickly ha lets not forget which team were talking about here. At least they got Stewart and didn’t almost get him.

      • No, I’m not KIDDING. I meant “quickly” in the context of the Post-Sak era. That prior search was clearly a sham.

      • True it was a sham, but creating a sham and telling it to your fans is a clear and utter lack of respect. I still want Sugarman out, but hope that at least getting rid of Sak will help some.

      • Understood, but keep in mind how Sak’s future ownership shares in the club were structured and how cost-conscious (read – cheap) that the Union have been over the last six years. There’s definitely some evidence of cause & effect there.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Well said +1000

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Good point. Connection made.

    • I agree with you completely. Sugarman finally recognized that Sak was the problem, sacked him, and found as a new Sporting Director — with as good a pedigree as you could possibly ask for — within a month. Honestly, I don’t really see how could ask for Sugarman to do any better than this (in the short term).

      • +1. Clearly Sak was the one holding back any Sporting Director hire. I can’t think of a better qualified person for this position. Well done Union! This will take Earnie some time to build-up but I’m excited for the future (which I definitely wasn’t saying about a month ago).

      • Agree Sak may have been holding it all back but still don’t trust Sugarman as an owner at all. When he drops some cash to allow Stewart to do what he does then maybe we will see if trends can turn.

  11. Section 114 (Formerly) says:

    Hallelujah. One interesting thing about the January 1 start date is that it essentially means three things: (1) Albright/Curtin get another year, (2) they (Albright/Curtin) will be an easy scapegoat if 2016 doesn’t go well, and (3) he gets two months to scout the Low Countries looking for Union talent. Let’s hope (1) and (2) are not issues.

    • I assume there is a good chance he starts earlier. I imagine they would let him leave AZ once they hire a replacement.

      • Agreed, he can’t leave AZ until his replacement is procured. The reality is that AZ isn’t going to want him making too many decisions during this period so I would expect that he’s working full time on Union stuff in the next 30 days.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Look to the Gillick-McPhail transition realities with the Phillies for possible elements of similarity.
      McPhail was physically here. But with Skype, Stewart can be “virtually” here.
      First order of business is to build a scouting organization cum analytics department.

  12. That was quick. Real quick.
    Like had the press releases written on Friday and sent out first thing on Monday morning quick.
    He can’t be cheap. Makes me wonder if firing Sak was as much about freeing up budget as it is about performance.

    • Sorry, but as I said above this was not quick they’ve been saying they were going to hire someone for over 2 years now.

      • There is trying and then there is TRYING. And it seems once they signaled actual real human effort they got their man and got him quick.
        I think real declining attendance and enthusiasm started the actual real human effort.

      • If you look at this from the removal of Sac…the guy probably responsible for it NOT happening in the last two years… Then it was pretty fast!…just a different view.

      • Yeah this is one view to take and I know most people will think of it this way I look at it as the other search was BS and you think you can disrespect your fans, but it is what it is I guess.

      • Yup… Also a great point!

  13. Excellent news! I just wish his start date were November 1 instead of January 1.

  14. Great! Completely happy Stewart is on board, glad he wants to develop a playing philosophy since this team lacks that, but he needs to start on this job yesterday. Now I understand moving jobs is not easy and takes time, but lets hope while he is finishing up at AZ he is figuring out what the Union need to do. Because Jan. 1 – March is not much time to put 2 teams together with full rosters, coaching staffs, and scouts. This needed to happen 2 years ago when the search started.

  15. Before seeing this, I opened an email from the team that delivered the news. Shouted an expletive followed by a YES! that got me some attention. This is great. Not sure a losing season has ever felt so optimistic.

  16. This is great news. The Lehigh Valley team is great news. Sak being gone is great news. These are all big steps in the right direction for once, after languishing for 6 years. If nothing else this gives hope going into the offseason, instead of swelling in the fact that we were one of the absolute worst teams in the league.
    My one fear is still Curtin, who will stay I believe. I think he makes a heat assistant, especially in this area. I just don’t know that he has the ability.

  17. Smackie the Frog says:

    Well Sugarman, this is such a good start that I’m not even going to make any snarky comments. A very good start indeed. Smackie approves.

  18. el Pachyderm says:

    I came home from work. I went to sleep. For the first morning the clock did not say 06:00. It is not Groundhog’s Day!
    Add a new Book to the Bible… And there came a savior from the east and the Unionites rejoiced.
    I want to hug someone. I am hopeful again.

  19. This makes me hopeful. I’m liking this. Hoping he can finally get this franchise moving in the right direction.

  20. This is possibly the best news in Philadelphia Union history. I don’t think that’s hyperbole.

  21. The Little Fish says:

    Fantastic hire. They got the right guy. I’m thrilled with the new direction. I’m totally on board with Union 2.0 and can’t wait to see it all take shape. GO UNION…!!!

  22. Well after a lengthy amount of time living in a cave, this has caused me to reappear. It feels like Spring to me. We had a front office member come up to our tailgate around 1 yesterday. He said, “Thank you for your patience. We should have some exciting news for you shortly.” BBBAAAAAMMMM! Less than 24 hrs. Sak would never allow a hire like this, he’d lose his meddling control of the club. Plus, would you want him as your boss?

  23. YYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WELL DONE MR. SUGARMAN, This shows us dedicated Founding Member STH’s you’re commitment for the QUALITY PRODUCT we’ve been supporting for the last 6 years… WELL DONE!!!! F#%&IN’ AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…

  24. OneManWolfpack says:

    This is good… this is really good. For once it appears we may have the train back on the tracks. It wouldn’t be Philly if we didn’t have to suffer immensely before having a chance at success.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I do not remember the theological origins of the concept; I associate it as a history teacher (retired) with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The concept is redemption through suffering, and had something to do with the Book of Job, maybe.

      “And Sakiewicz, the Light-Bearer, said to the long-suffering SoB, ‘Curse God, and die!” But SoB, faithful to the end, said, “I believe in Earnie and will achieve the playoffs!” [If my fifty-year old Latin is still accurate, “light-bearer” = “lucifer”]. (I agree, I lack El Pachyderm’s knack for cadence.)

  25. Wow this is great!


  27. What the hell am I supposed to do with all these cookies we have on The Cliff for the offseason? Hello? Anyone? We need more kindling for Hand’s fire. People?

    Seriously, this is great news. In the short term, I expect roster turnover and player movement – on one of the worst clubs in MLS no one should feel their spot is safe. In the long term, I truly hope we see the mix of academy products and smart spending of money that has just been lip service to this point.

  28. OK, just to be clear:
    If we’re not all going to jump off the “cliff”,
    can we still get the cookies…?
    Just askin’.

  29. Dave Watanabe from Pasadena shared this conmmet via e-mail:Thank you Mr. Abe for showing the film today at JANM. It was both remarkable and educational for me. I am very interested in the stigma the no-no boys and the draft resisters have faced even till today. As a senior citizen (born in 1945) from Hawaii our family was not affected by any relocation/internment ordeal so I only learned of the details of the internment after I began to live in LA since 1971.I feel bad for the people who were and continue to be stigmatized within the Japanese-American community. I for one am unable to judge either side on the issue. If I lived through those days I really don’t know what I would have done. I think films like yours can open people’s minds for better understanding and acceptance of people who decided either way. Needless to say a very sensitive issue, but the only way to overcome it is to face the issue head on. I will be going on the Tule Lake pilgrimmage this year to learn more about the no-no people and resisters.It is too bad the Q A session was cut very short due to another film showing today. There was a lot I would have liked to have heard from your 2 panelists who lived through this nightmarish period.Congratulations on such a superb documentary and for helping me understand a lot more.Dave Watanabe (in Pasadena)

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