In addition to being a three-time U.S. World Cup player and a successful soccer executive abroad, new Union sporting director Earnie Stewart brings a clarity of roles to his new team.

During a chaotic 10-17-7 season a year ago, there was the perception that several people had a hand in how the Union operated. There didn't appear to be uniformity. Stewart has changed that.

While he values the opinion of the coaching staff and the other soccer executives, it's Stewart who has drawn up the playbook, and the Union will follow it.

"I am not saying everything in the past was bad, but I have a way of looking at soccer," Stewart said.

What is most important for Stewart is that everybody - players, coaching staff, and administration - know what is expected of them.

"I believe that if everybody knows his role and responsibility and realizes others' roles and responsibilities, it makes for a stronger organization," Stewart said.

One of Stewart's first goals was to make sure the Union were two-deep at every position.

Stewart didn't have much time to adjust, but he has been working to reshape the roster since joining the team in late November after a successful tenure as director of football affairs at AZ Alkmaa. He was hired the last week of October but couldn't join the Union for more than a month, until he completed his obligations with his Dutch club.

Stewart said he leaned on coach Jim Curtin and technical director Chris Albright to help him learn things such as the complex Major League Soccer rules regarding the salary cap, the collective bargaining agreement, and the players in the league.

Stewart played two seasons in MLS and helped D.C. United win the 2004 championship. But the league has changed since then.

"I don't think it has been that big of a difference," he said about evaluating the players and shaping the roster. "Soccer is soccer."

While some new executives might look for a soft landing spot and talk about rebuilding, Stewart had none of it. He has expressed since the beginning that the goal is to earn a playoff berth, something the Union did just once in their first six seasons.

Stewart is not only shaping the Union but is in charge of all technical and soccer-related decisions for their new United Soccer League team, the Bethlehem Steel, and their youth academy.

It's a lot of responsibility in this newly created position, but the 46-year-old Stewart appears up for the challenge. He has a no-nonsense approach, and his resumé, which also includes scoring 111 goals as a professional in the Netherlands, has brought instant credibility to a franchise in dire need of some.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard