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U.S. Soccer Federation general manager search 'in final stages'

CHESTER, Penn. - The U.S. Soccer Federation clarified the responsibilities of the nascent general manager position, stressing that the role is intended to be long term in nature, and that the hiring process is in the "final stages."

The USSF's Chief Sport Development Officer Nico Romeijn, who oversees all technical areas for the Federation, led the briefing, stating that the a six-person technical committee had interviewed 10 candidates, most of whom are American, with at least one Latino candidate. He added that fluency in Spanish is preferred but not a deal breaker.

Romeijn declined to provide any additional details on where things stand in terms of the hiring process. Numerous reports have stated that current Philadelphia Union sporting director Earnie Stewart is the leading candidate and is in negotiations with the USSF about the post.

The GM's remit consists of eight primary areas of responsibility. These include: overseeing the technical side of the senior national team -- including specifying the style of play the team will implement -- as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the men's national team, driving the culture of the team, drive the process of hiring/firing the national team coach, building an integrated staff including some national team assistants, incorporating analytics and high performance, monitor the player pool, and increasing and formalizing oversight.

A particular aim of the GM position is to provide stability and a long-term pathway so that items such as style of play don't change simply because there is a change in manager.

"The head coach isn't the Federation, he's part of the Federation," said Romeijn.

He added: "We don't want to change everything when you hire a new coach."

In terms of hiring and firing the senior national team manager, Romeijn stated that the GM would research potential candidates, help compile a short list, and be an important part of the interview process, but that the ultimate decision would lie with the USSF Board of Directors.

With regard to staff, Romeijn said he expected that the new manager would bring in some of his own people but that it's not a given that all of the staff from the previous regime would be fired and thus start over from scratch.

Romeijn added that the USSF wants the GM to have a strong personality but also be a team player. The candidate must have knowledge of the U.S. soccer landscape as well as the international game. He reiterated that the GM would not have oversight of youth national teams.

"We think this is a big job, so asking someone to look at national team but also overseeing all the youth teams, we don't think he could give the focus that we want," he said.

The approach seems intent on avoiding the situation that took place during Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure as head coach of the national team, in which one person amassed considerable power. In Klinsmann's case that included being named technical director in addition to his duties as manager. Romeijn however denied that the approach was formulated as a reaction to the Klinsmann era. Rather it has been derived more out of a belief that this is the right way to do things going forward.

While that approach is understandable to a degree, there does appear to be potential areas of conflict between the GM and head coaching posts given that most managers will prefer to institute their own style of play and hire their own staff, though Romeijn stated there would be some flexibility with regard to both areas.