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Readers poll: Grading Earnie Stewart’s performance

Earnie Stewart has been Philadelphia Union sporting director for about a year. What do you think of the job he has done?

Last off-season, he secured the following international signings:

  • Roland Alberg, who had played regularly in the Dutch Eredivisie;
  • Ilsinho, a former regular for Shaktar Donetsk in Ukraine;
  • Anderson, a Brazilian journeyman playing for a loan factory, on loan;
  • Matt Jones, a former starting goalkeeper in Portugal’s top division, on loan.

Stewart also oversaw a draft that collected three full-time or part-time starters, approved the trade for Chris Pontius, and closed the deal over the summer on the Union’s long-simmering effort to sign Alejandro Bedoya.

What do you think about the job that Stewart has done thus far?

Vote below, and detail your thoughts in the Comments section below. Feel free to evaluate Stewart however you want. If you want to measure him just on the Union’s personnel acquisitions, go for it. If you want to factor in the cultural impact he has had on the club, that’s fair too.

[poll id=”25″]


  1. Feel like his signing 2 HGPs who seem to be legit and thus further cementing the pro pipeline that died under Sak deserves a call out as well.

    • Agreed, but only if they are eventually worked into the lineup. Signing Christian Hernandez and Jimmy McLaughlin was celebrated when done, but we never a visible impact from those signings on the team.

  2. I give him a C.
    The Union were already really good at drafting and I doubt he had much of a say in drafting
    He brought in some interesting pieces in Alberg and Ilshino but they never really meshed and became starters. (I kinda think Alberg needs to be shipped out)
    Jones and Anderson were a pair of Jamokes but I expect a couple of busts when you are scouring the bargain bin.
    The culture change is important but until it manifests it’s self as consistently on the field, imma going to have to say C+

    • I agree with all of this although I think being able to convince Sugarman to finally really spend some cash might push him up to a B. Also he was really rushed into it late last year. This year the results must be much better.

    • Agree entirely.

    • +1. Can not believe some voted higher than C.

    • “Really good” is an incredible overstatement.

      Besides Marquez is there even a draft pick from pre-2016 on this roster?

      • Yes, in addtion to Marquez players that are on still on the Union or at least on an MLS roster – Gaddis, Blake, and Fernandes are still with the Union. MacMath, McInerney, Ribeiro, M. Farfan, and Okugo are with other MLS teams.
        However, I will throw out the caveat that in most cases, the Union have had high draft picks and therefore were more likely to come away with a solid player. So I’m not really of the opinion that the Union are very draft savvy.
        Blake, MacMath, McInerney, Okugo, and Ribeiro were all first round picks. Farfan and Gaddis were second round picks. Marques was a third round pick. Fernandes was a Supplemental Draft pick.

  3. This season will be a lot different than last. It’s good to have hope for the club’s future. I feel like he was able to create a lot of good change in a short time. So more of the same is expected this season. If B+ was an option I may have gone that way. Tough to see the team slide at the end but that’s not directly on ES.

  4. I say C mostly cause it is to early to tell. I’m of the thought Alberg could still pan out. Ilsinho eh, an okay backup but not much to write home about. Jones I think was a solid backup had he not been injured. Anderson well to me he lacked speed and that was the same problem with Vittoria at least they identified this early and didn’t try to keep playing him. Overall I expect more, but here is to hoping this offseason is better. Also, please just let Edu go I think the money is of more value then he is at this point.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      if you do that, BC and Warren are your defensive center mids, next to “who knows” as your center mid. Means you have to sign at least three starters, not bench depth, starters, in addition to finding a goalkeeper prospect, and a left back prospect. That’s all of your roster spots if they keep one open for emergencies, which they may or may not do.
      That’s an awfully lot for one off-season.

      • Agreed, but I would rather not waste $700,000 on someone who has had two extensive leg injuries in the last year and expect them to be a lock in starter. Especially when their recovery time is obviously very slow. I use that money to find that starter. I try to trade for another starter in the CDM area. I sign via loan a veteran goalkeeper. Still leaves room for the LB and others.

  5. I just noticed this article failed to mention the Charlie Davies Letoux trade. This was very much a Stewart move. And although the move was clearly a bust, it did have the side effect of giving Herbers playing time to develop. This may drop my rationg from C+ to C.

    • Just because he is preforming well in Colorado does not mean its a bust. He was not preforming well here and there is no proof he would have if we kept him.

      Plus Colorado plays a totally different system that suits his strengths better.

      • Davies was brought in to be last minute replacement and score goals in the clutch.
        He didn’t so as of now he is a bust.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Gently say it. I have watched a friend survive chemo.
        That CD is able to practice is a credit to his determination, underlying physical conditioning and athleticism.
        Yes, he had little effect. There are things bigger than soccer, being grateful that he lives still among us being one.

      • Agreed. I think that signing was actually made for this year.
        Being out of contract and coming off a serious injury/disease, you would think the team would look to sign him to a “show-me” contract at a reasonable cap hit. He should feel wanted since the team made a move for him and two of his good friends (Edu and Bedoya) are on the team.
        Could be looked at as a very shrewd move in a year or two.

      • on Point! I truly believe that was the thought process behind the trade as it was happening!

      • When was Le Toux not performing well before the trade. If I remember he was 3rd in goals and 3rd in assists on the team when we traded him.

      • Charlie plays Earnie’s style. Seba gives his all. is tireless and has his moments but his touch often failed him and his futbol IQ not great. Very happy for his first deep playoff run!

    • Yes, I did omit that. Oversight by me. Thanks for mentioning it.

  6. I gave him a C. Some positive steps made this year and while the roster was better constructed than in past years, it still was too thin by MLS standards.

    I expect to see a much better squad when the season starts again in March.

  7. Lucky Striker says:

    C- and that’s still better by far than what came before him. My personal gripe is that he’s given far too much credit for the draft, and far too little stick for a bust like Anderson, a non-factor like Davies and a guy “his coach” can’t figure out how to use like Alberg.

    Like I said though, still better than the guy who went out in a coffin……..

  8. I think he deserves a B, which is better than average.

    He deserves some credit for the haul in the draft. And for Signing academy players. With Isinho and Alberg, he didn’t hit paydirt, but he didn’t take a bath in bad contracts either. Same with Jones. Verdict is still out, for me anyway, on Bedoya and Davies.

    More importantly, I think Stewart gives Union fans something about which to be optimistic. He’s a serious and accomplished executive who is just getting started. The direction is more positive than not.

    In this off season, I think what I’d like to see from Stewart are some signings that are less about putting league-average butts on the bench and more about IDing some players to get us over the hump. I want a striker that makes an impact.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      You and every organization that does not have Messi! 😉

      • Shoot, OSC, I’d be happy with anyone in the Bradley Wright Phillips range on the international market. I think anyone scoring 10 -15 goals in Europe is good for 20 in MLS. Or close to it. I like the idea of looking more in South America. Look at the impact of a guy like Seattle’s Lodeiro.

  9. I thought all the signings were pretty good besides Anderson alberg got us 9 goals from the bench Pontius had a break out year and Jones served his purpose backup goalkeeper the draft picks were great and we made the playoffs now we need to improve on that

  10. Phil in Wilmington says:


    • Granted I haven’t caught a ton of Boyd but to me I see him as a stronger but slower version of Sapong. Can he create his own space? Is is more clinical in front of goal?

  11. Interesting the high percentage of the comments are from C voters but B has 69% after 42 votes.
    I would go for B-. The real dividends from this season will hopefully pan out in the future when the players in the academy are able to move up to the first team over the next several years having played the same system, thus fitting in much quicker.
    The other key won’t be seen for awhile either, when we see whether Blake eventually leaves for nothing or whether the Union can get something significant for him (or if they are able to convince him to stay here for the next 15 years in which case it would be fine for him to leave for nothing).

    • azogD'filer says:

      Agree, except I think Curtain is a negative factor. Even with ES’s support, his tactical courage leaves much to be desired. I’m all for a “player’s” coach and loyalty, but winning at almost all costs, is still a needed ingredient IMHO.

      I think Curtain has another season to step up. ES had no problems, going through multiple managers at AZ.

  12. I gave him an A for 1 reason only.

    The hardest thing to do in business and in sports is successfully and quickly implement a culture change.

    Regardless of the rest of his transactions, the organization that is the Philadelphia Union will be (and has been) better off significantly, and in the long term, for this shift.

    • That’s why I went with a B . The change was evident from the first game. I had a conversation with my freshly minted voter age children about being part of the process. I hope the PSP faithful vote in the election. Less than 60% of Americans vote in Presidential election years.

      • And it’s a LOT less than that in non Presidential years (says someone who has missed one non presidential election in the last 30 or so years when I had just moved but wasn’t registered to vote yet).
        Now if only we could get 60% of Union fans to vote in PSP polls 🙂

  13. I voted C. Most of our improvement came through the draft and through the excellent acquisition of Chris Pontius, all of which was probably much more led by Curtin and his staff rather than Earnie. I see neither Ilsinho nor Alberg having a role with the club going forward. Probably the best thing he did was lock down Bedoya, which I think is likely to pay dividends going forward.

    He also left us with a far-too-inexperienced back line, and no depth at the striker position — and this is not retrospective griping, as I said these things before we played our first game.

    I’m glad he’s heading up the club, and it takes time to make things happen. So it’s not like I want him fired. I’m hoping next season will be better. But I can only grade him for what he did, and it was… meh. In the end I agree with Sieve and would’ve given him a C+ or a B- if those were options.

  14. John P O'Donnell says:

    I went with a B because I think he changed the culture of the team and the fanbase. Although I think he had little to do with the draft as he started with the team so late, I think he did listened to Curtin & Albright who actually picked the players. He also got the owner to spend money on Bedoya which I didn’t think would have happened in the past. The four international players he signed I look at as an incomplete as he really didn’t have an idea about the team just yet. Two of the four contributed but they were mostly hit or miss all season.

    The biggest thing I think he did was, start the process of signing players from the academy and developing them with the Steel. Now if they can move up to the first team and contribute is the final question. If you look at the league and how it’s going, this could be the biggest piece of the puzzle. Productive home grown players complimenting DP’s at key positions in a salary budgeted league is the formula for success.

    The biggest thing I believe Stewart did is give the fanbase hope. I think this is quite important for any professional team. It’s hard to root for a team when you don’t believe they have a plan. Myself, I think there is a plan in place and they are moving towards it. The Philadelphia fan in me says it should have been done yesterday.

    • I agree with the above. To me, anything below a b grade is unfair.

      Could he have done anything to keep Barnetta and Nogueira? Probably not, but he brought in some players to manage those losses.

      One thing I don’t understand is the comments about Alberg. Second highest goalscorer on the team and in terms of goals per minute played, nobody was remotely close.

      For a first season in mls, Alberg adjusted well and I think he has a bright future.

  15. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Earnie Stewart has stated publically that the more important way to scout a player in person is to watch him practice.
    In the Sporting Director’s public evaluation of Jim Curtin, his emphasis was on how well Jim Curtin puts together and runs a practice.
    No one to date in this thread has mentioned either two a days on the days of the week appropriate for heavy work or the sports science people who determine the typical week’s practice pattern That Jim Curtin has explained publicly twice in my hearing.
    Further, we know that each player has an individual player development plan, which will sound quite familiar to consumers and practitioners of contemporary education in these United States.
    Many criticize the teams for tactical inflexibility. That seems to come straight form the Dutchman, from some of his public comments on the subject.
    A dimension of the personnel decisions that no one is remembering is the specific sequence of their timing. Anderson in particular was signed to fill a specific one year role before the emergence of Ken Tribbett. He felt like a one year stopgap before his first minutes on the field in a preseason game. [My own wish from hindsight is that he had been tried as a defensive center midfielder, because that position is one of need and his weaknesses are protected there as they are not at center back.
    He has the professional pedigree to persuade the owner to spend the money to sign Bedoya.
    He is available and accessible to his coaches, with rock-ribbed certainty at the MLS and USL levels, very likely so at Academy levels.
    It is too early to judge his talent evaluation abilities for the game as it is played north of the Rio Grande, as responsibilities for last year’s decisions are unclear. Will he learn form his mistakes?
    He has Vision, Philosophy, and Plan (hats off to El Pachyderm).
    His organization forged a strong start, to understate it. His organization produced a poor finish.
    If those giving “c’s” truly mean that the performance was satisfactory, ok. I am used, however, to “C” meaning in fact “unsatisfactory”, and “B” to mean “well, that’s okay, I guess … sort of,” and “A” to be “that’s what we expect.”
    I substitute instead Adam Cann’s 1-10 scale. 6 1/2. With comment, “Good job for the first year. Let the upward trend continue!”

    • I’m with you on the grade interpretations. I view a ‘c’ as a “take it or leave it” grade. ‘B’ being “take it” and ‘D’ being leave it.

    • To me C is what it should mean dead average. Were things outstanding-A I would say not. Am I calling for his head-F I would also say not. The season was slightly better than I myself expected and to me the moves and philosophy, vision, plan are average and not fully implemented yet. Hence a dead average-C. This leaves room for improvement which I hope to see over the next few years.

    • C means dead average for me. Nothing special. Nothing horrendous. Also I’d like to add that I wasn’t too happy hearing the Dutchman’s comment on tactics and how pleased he was with Jim’s performance. What I expect now though is a big leap from last year. He’s had his year for the learning curve, let’s see what he does with it. I am expecting him to hit on more players and actually provide depth on this roster (so it can’t be used as an excuse again for how many years running).

  16. Trust the process *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAP-CLAP-CLAP*

  17. The Chopper says:

    Had to go with the C. Can’t really credit him for the draft and the team’s 2 best players on the field were from the previous regime and both have now exited Philly.

    Pontius was nice pickup. Next year we see if Bedoya is worth it. Stewart has been given a fully functioning Academy and USL side to work with. So outside of an abudance of cash, he has the tools to work with and raise his grade.

  18. Those grading Big Ern at C, surely gave his predecessor F – last year, eh?
    ES started in December and oversaw the promising launch of BSFC,supervised the best draft in history, signed Bedoya & Pontius at a discount, and oversaw the first playoff qualifier in 5 years.
    I gave Sak a D – and ES a A -.
    What the heck did he do wrong?
    He shipped out Wenger & Chaco.
    As for Nogs & Quillo, neither left to escape Philly so ES is blameless on both departures.
    Plus he signed off on new training regimen.
    He’s playing long and made,all the right moves for that.

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