Stewart, McBride exit US Soccer, leaving Berhalter in limbo
NEW YORK — The American men’s national team shakeup that began after a public spat erupted between two well-known families accelerated Thursday when sporting director Earnie Stewart announced he is quitting the U.S. Soccer Federation to join PSV Eindhoven.
Men’s general manager Brian McBride also is resigning, leaving coach Gregg Berhalter in limbo following the expiration of his contract on Dec. 31. Berhalter is under investigation for a 1991 domestic violence incident and Anthony Hudson, one of his assistants, led his first game as interim coach on Wednesday.
Hours later, Austin’s Major League Soccer team said former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna was no longer its sporting director. The Reyna family has been embroiled in a dispute with Berhalter that became public earlier this month, several weeks after the U.S. was eliminated from the World Cup.
USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone said it likely will be many months before the coach situation is sorted out. Sportsology Group, a company that has worked with the Los Angeles Rams and several soccer teams, was hired to lead the sporting director search, review the sporting department and analyze coach candidates. The sporting director will then make the coach decision.
“We’re hopeful that we can fill these two positions by the end of the summer so that the men’s team has plenty of time in preparation for the World Cup in leading up to 2026,” Cone said. “Greg remains a candidate.”
Following the Americans’ round of 16 elimination against the Netherlands on Dec. 3, Berhalter told a management conference in New York that he nearly sent a player home from Qatar for lack of hustle in training. The remarks clearly were about 20-year-old Gio Reyna, a son of Claudio Reyna and former women’s player Danielle Egan Reyna.
The Reyna parents complained to Stewart and McBride about their son’s lack of playing time in Qatar, where he was limited to a pair of substitute appearances.
Danielle Reyna notified Stewart of a 1991 incident in which Berhalter kicked a woman who later became his wife, Rosalind Santana Berhalter, who was Danielle’s college roommate. The USSF hired the law firm Alston & Bird to investigate in a probe that is ongoing. Berhalter has said, “There are zero excuses for my actions that night.”
Stewart, 53, played for the U.S. at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups and was hired as the first GM of the team in June 2018 as part of a management reorganization that followed the Americans’ failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Stewart recommended to the board in December 2018 that Berhalter be hired as coach.
Stewart was elevated to sporting director of the men’s and women’s programs in August 2019 and McBride, a former American star forward, was hired as GM by Stewart in January 2020.
McBride said he told the USSF of his planned department in October.
“I didn’t want any of the focus off of the team in the leadup or during the World Cup,” he said in a statement.
McBride was a candidate for promotion, saying “another opportunity inside the federation arose” during the tournament and “I spent the last month looking into the position.”
“The position has been put on hold for the foreseeable future,” McBride said, ”which leads me to this statement.”
Stewart informed the USSF board of McBride’s departure last week. Cone said McBride will leave on Jan. 31 and it is unclear whether he will be replaced.
Stewart, who born in the Netherlands and grew up there, will depart on Feb. 15 to become PSV’s director of football. The USSF is releasing him from his contract, which ran through 2026, and Cone hopes to hire a replacement before the Women’s World Cup opens on July 20.
“This isn’t the process that we chose to go down,” she said. ”I know this moment feels a bit uncertain. ... What it actually is is a clean canvas.”