US Soccer is on the verge of hiring Matt Crocker to be its next sporting director. Crocker would replace Earnie Stewart, who departed the position at the beginning of 2023. US Soccer plans to announce Matt Crocker as its new sporting director on Tuesday, April 25.

Still, The Athletic spoke to those close to the hiring process from US Soccer. The report states the Federation settled on Crocker, who has experience in a similar position in the Premier League. That comes with Southampton, where Crocker is the current director of football.

Over the last three years, Crocker watched over the Southampton men’s, women’s and youth teams. Before that, he spent time with England, overseeing the youth teams. For example, he led England to U-17 and U-20 World Cups in 2017. That same year, he watched England’s U-19 squad win the European Championships. The Athletic argues Crocker helped establish the “England DNA” within the English FA. The youth teams and the senior squad have a similar coaching and development strategy.

According to The Athletic, those that have worked with Crocker called him the perfect fit for the United States. His development of infrastructure across the board at both England and Southampton yielded success. The aforementioned international success is one thing. However, at Southampton, he developed the “SFC Playbook” with Ralph Hassenhüttl. This is the aligning of playstyles between the A team and the B team at the club, ensuring an easy transition between each. Moreover, he laid out a five-year plan with the women’s team. The Southampton women earned promotion in back-to-back years, where it now plays in the Women’s Championship.

However, Crocker announced he would depart St. Mary’s at the end of the season. Now, it seems his landing spot is the United States.

Crocker brings infrastructure expertise to US Soccer

The main takeaway from Crocker’s experience is his development of infrastructure and talent. From 2006 to 2013, he was an academy manager at Southampton. He led the likes of Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain James Ward-Prowse, Tyrone Mings and more through their development. Applying that developmental touch to his knack for building up consistencies across teams at a club, Crocker can fit well in the United States.

A growing talent pool in the United States has seen more and more players represent top clubs across Europe. Ricardo Pepi, Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah, Malik Tillman and others are still just 20 years old. They can develop, despite some making appearances in the World Cup. Combine this with the US Youth Squads, some of which are preparing for the youth World Cups themselves, and more development can happen.

Search for a USMNT head coach

The timing of the potential hire of Crocker to US Soccer also answers some questions on the future of the USMNT. Currently without a head coach, US Soccer repeatedly stated it would wait to hire a head coach so it could have its sporting director’s input and decision-making. Crocker held talks with a potential USMNT manager.

For a time, Jesse Marsch looked like he was joining Southampton after his sacking by Leeds. Crocker must have been present in the discussions, even though they ultimately deteriorated, likely due to contract disagreements.

Regardless of any disagreements there, hiring a head coach is among the top priorities for Crocker when he arrives with US Soccer.