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U.S. Soccer reveals USMNT, USSF plans as Earnie Stewart moves to PSV

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Brandon Vazquez began his USMNT career with a spectacular first-half goal but Serbia tallied on either side of halftime to take a 2-1 win in the Americans' first friendly of January camp.

U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that sporting director Earnie Stewart will be leaving the federation in mid-February to assume the same role at PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

Stewart joins former U.S. Soccer men’s general manager Brian McBride as big names to leave their roles at the federation following the World Cup. The moves also follow a tempestuous month that saw a terrible controversy involving then-USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter and the family of Borussia Dortmund star Giovanni Reyna.

[ MORE: USMNT falls 2-1 in friendly vs Serbia ]

USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone thanked both Stewart and McBride for their contributions and said that Berhalter remains a candidate for the USMNT head coach job. However, both Cone and U.S. Soccer CEO JT Batson will be hiring a new sporting director who will have the job of hiring the next USMNT head coach.

They insisted that the ongoing investigation regarding the incidents between Berhalter and the Reynas had “no impact whatsoever” on the departures of McBride and Stewart.

“No impact whatsoever, We’re using this as an opportunity to review our sporting structure and make sure we’re set up for success. This is something we want to bring to life quickly.”

Earnie Stewart, Brian McBride timelines for departure

“Before the World Cup in Qatar I was informed that Brian would be moving on after the World Cup,” Cone said. “We asked him to extend his contract through the end of January to help us through this transition because we knew we were going to have a transitional moment with Gregg’s contract.”

“Earnie is an accomplished and highly sought-after leader. There have been many roles that have come his way through his time at U.S. Soccer. This was one both JT and I understood why he couldn’t turn this down, to be near his family and return home. We agreed to let him out of his contract. Though we’re sad to see him go, we’re focused on the opportunity ahead and it gives us the opportunity for a fresh look. We did not plan it this way but we find ourselves in this position and we’re going to take this opportunity on the sporting side to be as effective as possible.”

The hierarchy said they let Stewart out of an agreed and extended contract in order to take the job at PSV. Stewart was raised in the Netherlands and boasts a decorated resume from his time there as a player and executive.

Latest on USMNT coaching search, USSF director search

Cone said that these unexpected developments give them a chance to change how they approach the men’s soccer program, and the federation in general.

“This is an opportunity for us to take a more holistic view,” Cone said. “While we didn’t plan it this way, it presents us with a great opportunity. In my short time as president, we’ve made a lot of progress on the business side and now we have the opportunity to do it on the sporting side. It’s urgent but we aren’t going to rush it. I’m working with experts and our team to take a deep dive on our organization. I know this moment feels a bit uncertain but what it actually is is a clean canvas. We’re working with Sportsology to get into the weeds and continue a full review of our men’s national team. We are still undergoing a technical review. Thanks to the rest of our sporting team and to JT, we have a great plan in place to lead us through a transitional time and into the next chapter.”

Cone said they hope to have a new sporting director and men’s head coach in place by the end of the summer. Current interim boss Anthony Hudson oversaw the Yanks’ 2-1 loss to Serbia on Wednesday and will be at the helm Saturday against Colombia in California. The federation says he’ll be with the team until a permanent successor is appointed later this year.

Follow @NicholasMendola