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GM Earnie Stewart taking ‘backseat’ in first USMNT camp

Jun 23, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union sporting director Earnie Stewart walks the field during halftime of a game between the Philadelphia Union and the Vancouver Whitecaps at Talen Energy Stadium. (Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After spending his first four weeks as the U.S. men’s national team general manager in his office at U.S. Soccer headquarters in Chicago, Earnie Stewart couldn’t be happier to be with the USMNT at training this week ahead of Friday night’s match against Brazil at MetLife Stadium.

“It’s good to see grass fields and see a ball rolling and being with players and being able to interact with Dave and the coaching staff,” Stewart said during a round table with reporters Thursday afternoon. “That has been nice.”

His goal at this camp is simple — to be in the background and observe, joking his seat at the front of the team bus during the week was unintentional.

“I want to take a backseat and kind of view what’s going on,” Stewart said. “There’s a lot of good things that have happened in the past, maybe some things I can put my ingredients on so right now all I’m doing is in this first camp viewing, seeing what’s going on.”

There was a pre-camp meeting with Sarachan and his coaching staff as well as the players about goals and there will be an evaluation meeting when it concludes. Stewart said that will happen for every camp going forward.

“What I think is important for us going forward, together with others, what’s the environment we need to get the best out of our players.”

Stewart also said there will be clearly defined roles between him and the coach, who he said he’d like to have in place before the end of the year.

“I don’t micromanage,” Stewart said. “His role is to select the players, step out on the field, have a strategy, a formation, a system and try to win games. My role is totally different and where it connects with each other has a lot to do with how do we evaluate our players from a day-to-day basis and once they leave camp what are they doing and how can we help them? I think we’ll make a very good connection with that.”

Although admitting there’s always a gray area and he expects regular meetings and conversations with the coaching staff, Stewart said he will remain in the background when the USMNT plays.

“I’m never on the field. I think that’s the best way to say it,” Stewart said. “On game day, I’m never on the field. That’s something for the coach, that’s the coaching staff itself when it comes to systems, formations, strategies, free kicks, all that kind of stuff. That’s his responsibility. Mine are off the field, everything that has to do with environment.”

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