CHICAGO (Aug. 12, 2019) – U.S. Soccer has appointed three-time FIFA World Cup veteran Earnie Stewart to be the first Sporting Director of U.S. Soccer and Kate Markgraf, who played in six world championships for the USA, winning the 1999 Women's World Cup and two Olympic gold medals, as the first General Manager of the Women’s National Team.
As the Sporting Director, Stewart will oversee U.S. Soccer’s entire Sports Performance Department, including the men’s and women’s senior and youth National Team programs, to create a more streamlined structure, align the overall technical approach and ensure greater communication and sharing of best practices within Federation programs. Reporting directly to the CEO, Stewart will also oversee all other Sports Performance departments, including Talent Identification, High Performance and Analytics.
This framework will lead to enhanced player development, more clearly defined pathways through the National Teams pyramid and help drive the ultimate goal, which is winning championships with the senior teams. At the same time, efforts to increase participation in the sport overall will be aided through his influence on coaching education, referee training and club development.
“This is a great day for the Federation and for soccer in America," said U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro. “In Earnie Stewart and Kate Markgraf, we’re keeping our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts. With Earnie as Sporting Director and Kate as the first General Manager of our Women’s National Team, we have the leaders in place to align our technical approach, develop the next generation of players and win championships.”
Stewart joined U.S. Soccer as the MNT General Manager just over a year ago, and his elevation to this new position means that the search for the next U.S. MNT General Manager will begin immediately.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity as we take another important step in our mission to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States,” Stewart said. “I firmly believe that having alignment in all the technical areas and programs of the Federation will fuel ideas, create better understanding and ultimately improve performance. We want U.S. Soccer to be the leaders and drivers of the sport in this country, which also means we have to engage and communicate with participants at all levels. I look forward to the challenge.”
The role of the Women’s National Team General Manager will have an expanded scope beyond the senior team, influencing the development of women’s soccer within the Federation and serving as the external liaison to all stakeholders. While Markgraf’s immediate priority will be to lead the process of selecting the next head coach of the Women’s National Team ahead of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games, she will also manage the overall technical plan for the Women’s National Team program, which includes the hiring of Youth National Team coaches and staff.
“We’re thrilled to have Kate as the first General Manager of our Women’s National Team,” said Cordeiro. “Having won multiple championships, she’s truly steeped in the culture of the program. At a time when more countries around the world are investing heavily in women’s soccer and competition is getting more intense, Kate will help ensure that we achieve excellence across all our women’s teams and programs, both at the Federation and across the United States."
Markgraf will have several primary areas of responsibility, which include:
Manage, hire and develop senior and youth Women’s National Team coaches, technical and administrative staffs to maximize potential
Create, implement, and manage a technical plan for the Women’s National Teams at all ages to meet specific, agreed upon milestones and metrics
Create, implement, and monitor performance standards for the Women’s National Teams 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.”
Markgraf was selected as General Manager after an extensive selection process that was headed by U.S. Soccer Vice-President Cindy Parlow-Cone and approved by the Board of Directors.
“Kate knows the rich history and the expectations of the USWNT,” Cone said. “She has a great knowledge of the international women's game and how it continues to evolve. She is an excellent collaborative leader who has the skills to manage this high-pressure, competitive environment. She will be able to step in and hit the ground running as we have Olympic qualifying in just a few months.”
Stewart has 30 years of experience as a player and in technical roles for clubs in the Netherlands and United States. Stewart spent 18 seasons in the Netherlands and earned 101 caps as a midfielder for the U.S. Men’s National Team. He was voted the U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year in 2001 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011.
Markgraf represented the United States 201 times during a 12-year international career, helping the USA win the historic 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup as well as gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. A co-captain for the USWNT, she also played professionally both domestically and abroad, including in the WUSA for the Boston Breakers and the WPS with Chicago Red Stars. She was a captain on every team on which she played.
After retiring from professional soccer, Markgraf went into the academic world. She holds two graduate degrees: a Master’s in Kinesiology and a Master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research on elite athletes and the influence of Grit, a psychological metric predictive of success in elite domains, was the first of its kind and was published, with her as the co-author with her advisor, in the top Sport Psychology Academic Journal, the Journal of American Sport Psychology. In addition to her work for ESPN and NBC Sports as a soccer analyst, she served as a counselor charged with the development and management of the Student Employment Program at Cardinal Stritch University, which entailed overseeing more than 200 students and more than 30 supervisors.
In addition, Markgraf has served as a volunteer assistant coach with four Division I college programs, at Marquette, Harvard, Texas and with her alma mater at Notre Dame. She also coached youth soccer in the Milwaukee area for five years.