Earnie Stewart - close-up in 2016

U.S. Soccer made official what was rumored for weeks as Earnie Stewart was named the first men’s national team general manager on Wednesday.

A veteran of three World Cups as a player, Stewart, 49, will assume the recently created role on Aug. 1, with hiring the USMNT's next coach a prime responsibility. He most recently served as the Philadelphia Union’s sporting director for three years.

“Having played for the US men’s national team, I’m honored by the opportunity to return to help lead this rebuilding phase,” Stewart said in a statement. “We have a tremendous amount of young talent and passion in the US, and I’m ready to jump in, hire a new head coach and build a culture of success, with the ultimate goal of the U.S. men’s national team becoming a world champion.”

Stewart, who is one of 17 players to earn at least 100 caps for the USMNT in a stellar 17-year professional career, has 12 years of technical experience, having moved up the ranks in the Dutch Eredivise at VVV Venlo, NAC Breda and then AZ Alkmaar before returning to MLS, where he won an MLS Cup as a player with D.C. United, to become the Union’s sporting director on Jan. 1, 2016. 

“With his breadth of experience as both a player and a technical director, Earnie is the ideal leader to guide the long-term success of our men’s national team program,” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said. “Combined with the structural changes at the federation that we announced in April, this is a further step in our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”

Stewart was reportedly one of 10 candidates interviewed for the position, which was created by the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors after the USMNT failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup.

The search committee consisted of former national team players and current board members Carlos Bocanegra and Angela Hucles, U.S. Soccer CEO and secretary general Dan Flynn, chief sport development officer Nico Romeijn, chief soccer officer Ryan Mooney and chief commercial and strategy officer Jay Berhalter.

“Based on the profile of the position and the required skills, Earnie is a natural fit for the general manager with the men’s national team,” Romeijn said.