US interim coach Hudson will keep working amid uncertainty
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Anthony Hudson plans to keep coaching his heart out for the U.S. men's national team until somebody tells him to stop.
The interim coach has absolutely no idea when that will happen — or even who that somebody would be, since the U.S. Soccer Federation's search for the person who will hire the next permanent coach is only just beginning.
His short-term appointment is looking a bit more lengthy now, but Hudson is keeping his focus on the near future, starting with the Americans' friendly against Colombia on Saturday. He also won't say whether he's hoping to be a candidate for the full-time position.
“I wasn’t really expecting any of this, how this has evolved,” Hudson said Friday after the final practice of the U.S. team's annual January camp in Southern California.
“When we get (home), I’m going to focus on the next window, and if I’m still asked to do the one after that, I’m going to prepare for that one," he added. "I'm going to continue to do all I can. This is a really special team. I know how important this national team is, and I’m going to do all I can to make sure it's in a good place for whoever comes in. Whenever that is.”
Hudson was put in charge this month after the contract of his former boss, Gregg Berhalter, expired amid a sensational dispute between the families of Berhalter and his former U.S. teammate, Claudio Reyna. Berhalter is being investigated by U.S. Soccer for a 1991 domestic violence incident, and it's unclear whether he has a chance of continuing in the job.
What's more, sporting director Earnie Stewart quit Thursday, less than a week after the announced departure of men's general manager Brian McBride. USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone said the establishment of a new hierarchy — starting with a new sporting director, who will be in charge of hiring the next coach — could take many months to sort out.
All Hudson knows for sure is that he’ll be in charge for two CONCACAF Nations League matches in March. Given the current chaos above him, the Seattle-born Englishman's tenure seems quite likely to extend into the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, which begins in June and concludes July 16 at nearby SoFi Stadium.
Hudson, who has coached the Colorado Rapids and the national teams of New Zealand and Bahrain, is publicly taking it all in stride.
“My focus is for however long it is, just to keep doing all I can to progress the team and prepare the team, starting in March, and that’s it," Hudson said. "Obviously, it seems a fluid situation, but that’s my focus right now.”
Hudson became Berhalter's assistant in 2021, and he has run the January camp with an eye to the future despite his lack of certainty around his own role. With a roster filled with relatively inexperienced prospects and just five players from the World Cup, he gave U.S. debuts to eight players in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Serbia.
“Anthony has done a great job at this camp,” defender Walker Zimmerman said. “The staff are continuing a process, so it allows us ease in understanding those principles, but he’s been phenomenal. It’s not an easy job for him, but he’s doing an amazing job so far in this camp.”
The U.S. program has experienced similar turmoil in the recent past: Bruce Arena resigned in October 2017 after the Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and Dave Sarachan served as their interim coach until Berhalter was hired in December 2018. Hudson and Sarachan have already spoken about the unusual challenges of their similar situations.
The January camp concludes with a potentially lively exhibition: The LA Galaxy’s home stadium is likely to be sold out to see the Americans against a Colombian team featuring Los Angeles FC star Chicho Arango.
Despite the small window with his players, Hudson feels good about both the ideas and the camaraderie that have been fostered. Hudson has stuck with Berhalter's philosophical ideas about attacking play, ball possession and defense.
“Going forward, we have a very clear game idea,” Hudson said. “Whoever is in this seat and has this type of game idea, naturally you want to keep evolving and moving it forward, so that’s the plan for us. In March, we have maybe three days on the training field going into the first game, so it’s really tough to make wholesale changes anyway. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”
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Greg Beacham, The Associated Press