Earnie Stewart’s time with the Union is over.
On Wednesday, the sporting director accepted the men's national team general manager position, ending his near three-year stint with the Union.
"These two-and-a-half years have been tremendous for me to see the landscape," Stewart said. "That is something I cherish very much. That set me up to be in the position I'm in right now."
The Union will utilize Stewart through July 31 and will begin looking for a new sporting director immediately. Assistant technical director Chris Albright is expected fill in during the interim.
"Earnie has earned this opportunity in every sense of the word," Union owner Jay Sugarman said in an official release. "We wish him the best at U.S. Soccer."
Stewart, 49, left Europe, specifically an executive position at AZ Alkmaar, to join the Union for the 2016 season, with the ultimate goal of rising up the U.S. soccer ranks. The Dutch former midfielder earned 101 U.S. men’s national team caps as a player and spent much of his professional playing career splitting time between MLS and Eredivisie.
"When I came back to United States, I wanted to do something for soccer in general in the United States having played for the men’s national team and seeing the environment and the facilities, the infrastructure, the know-how," Stewart said. "I think we’re a country to be reckoned with."
Stewart provided a much-needed injection of stability, professionalism and behind-the-scenes infrastructure to the Union. But he couldn’t deliver the wins needed to move the Union into the top tier of the Eastern Conference.
The club did manage to make the postseason in 2016, snapping a four-year absence from the tournament but were easily dispatched after stumbling in without a victory in its final seven games.
Over Stewart’s three seasons with the Union, the club combined for a record of 27-34-21, posting identical 11-14-9 records in 2016 and 2017, marking limited growth in a rapidly improving league.
Stewart also wasn’t shrewd in his dealmaking. Although his legacy will be brightened by young homegrown players he cultivated in Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Matt Real and Derrick Jones, Stewart, who proved an excellent draft talent evaluator, had his share of misses on the market, which contributed to the Union’s inability to thrive.
In 2017, Stewart, bound by a money-ball strategy, signed forward Jay Simpson to a pricey three-year contract totaling over a half million per season. Simpson has managed four starts, 24 games and one goal. Stewart also chased Charlie Davies — a late-season pick up in 2016 that cost the Union general allocation money, targeted allocation money and a first-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. The Union received two seasons and 104 total minutes from Davies.
Stewart also traded Union legend Sebastien Le Toux for cash in 2016 and whiffed on center back Anderson, left back Giliano Wijnaldum and youngster Adam Najem.
But it wasn't all negative. Stewart did hit on Fafa Picault, Roland Alberg, Oguchi Onyewu and Borek Dockal, but the productive additions weren’t common enough to get the Union over the talent barrier in the East. It’s a fact that will ultimately define the Stewart era to Union fans, as he becomes one of the most powerful people in U.S. soccer.