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Stewart promoted to U.S. Soccer sporting director, Markgraf named first USWNT general manager

23:30 GMT+3 12/08/2019
Earnie Stewart USMNT 08202016
The former USMNT general manager has been elevated into a new role overseeing all of the federation's national team programs

U.S. Soccer has announced that men's national team general manager Earnie Stewart has been promoted to sporting director, overseeing all men's and women's national team programs.

In addition, Kate Markgraf has been hired as the first general manager of the U.S. women's national team.

With Stewart's ascent, the search will begin for a new USMNT GM a little over a year after the 50-year-old initially took the position.

"This is a great day for the federation and for soccer in America," U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said in a statement. "In Earnie Stewart and Kate Markgraf, we're keeping our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts."

As the sporting director, Stewart will oversee the federation's entire sports performance department, which includes the men's and women's senior and youth national team programs.

According to the federation, this move was made to "create a more streamlined structure, align the overall technical approach and ensure greater communication and sharing of best practices within federation programs."

Stewart earned 101 caps for the USMNT during his playing career and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011. He has spent time in executive roles at Dutch clubs NAC Breda and AZ, as well as the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer before taking the USMNT GM role. 

Markgraf, 42, made 201 appearances for the USWNT during her career, winning the 1999 World Cup and two Olympic gold medals.

Following her playing career, Markgraf has worked as a broadcaster for Fox, NBC and ESPN, calling multiple World Cups, the Olympics and the 2016 European Championships.

Her first order of business will be overseeing the search for a new head coach after Jill Ellis announced two weeks ago that she would be stepping down from her position. 

It will be no easy task to replace Ellis, who last month became only the second head coach to ever win multiple World Cup championships. 

In addition to her role overseeing the head coaching search, Markgraf will be charged with creating a technical plan and performance standards for the USWNT at all ages. 

"This new role presents some big challenges, but all are exciting, important to the future of the game and certainly energizing," said Markgraf.

"I'm honored to come back to an organization and program that I love, one which helped mold me as a player and person, and to contribute to its continued growth.

"To reach the top of the world is difficult enough, but to stay there takes a tremendous amount of hard work by players, coaches, staff and administrators, and I'm looking forward to collaborating with those inside and outside of U.S. Soccer to make that happen."