Anthony Hudson: 'I wasn't really expecting any of this'

The upheaval that has rocked U.S. Soccer in the last seven weeks since revelations about problems the men's national team staff had (and then resolved) with an unhappy Gio Reyna at the World Cup in Qatar has put the spotlight on acting men's coach Anthony Hudson.

On Wednesday, he coached what was to be the first of two friendly games to cap off a short January camp.

By Thursday, it was clear he'll likely be in charge through the summer and the Concacaf Nations League finals (if the USA qualifies) and Gold Cup (which the USA will again host).

Following the departures of sporting director Earnie Stewart and USMNT general manager Brian McBride, U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone announced that it will likely be into the summer before a new sporting director is in place and that the sporting director will be tasked with hiring a new men's national team coach and (perhaps) a new men's GM, a process that might extend to the end of the summer.

Hudson took on the job of coaching the USMNT in place of Berhalter, whose contract expired at the end of 2022, while the federation conducted a review of the cycle that ended with the 2022 World Cup and an independent investigation was conducted into what happened in 1991 when Berhalter kicked his now-wife and how the information of those events when they were college freshmen came to the federation.

Hudson said he found out over the last few days about the new order: He'll be acting coach of a program without a sporting director or general manager after Feb. 15 when Stewart returns to the Netherlands to take a position at PSV.

"Obviously, there's been some changes," he said. "And my focus is, for however long it is, just to keep doing all I can to progress the team, prepare the team, starting in March, and that's it. Obviously, it's a fluid situation, but that's my focus right now."

After Saturday's match against Colombia, there will be the final two group matches in the 2022-23 Nations League in March, at Grenada and against El Salvador. The Nations League finals and Gold Cup will take the USMNT into mid-July.

This won't be the first time the USMNT has had an interim coach, Dave Sarachan coached the team for 12 games — all friendlies — in 2017-18. Hudson could coach as many games in six months.

Walker Zimmerman, who captained the USA in the 2-1 loss to Serbia on Wednesday, was just breaking into the USMNT in 2018.

"In the case of Dave in 2018, that year was instrumental in bringing a lot of new faces to the national team. This camp is another opportunity to do that," he said of the camp that opened a week ago with 13 uncapped players. "I think the difference, however, is we are still continuing our style of play, the way that we've worked over the past four years in this cycle. And guys are coming in, they're learning, we have a clear plan in terms of what we as players are expected to do on the field. And from that standpoint, that's just a continuation of things for us."

Hudson shared Zimmerman's view that the USMNT has a clear plan: "We want to be a team that plays attacking soccer. We want to possess the ball, we want to be brave in possession defensively, we're clear about how we want to defend."

Hudson, 41, has experience as a national team boss with Bahrain — he had just turned 32 when he was promoted to head coach — and New Zealand, giving him experience with teams competing in regional tournaments and during short windows.

He'll have only a couple of days with his players in camp — likely Florida — before the USMNT heads to Grenada to face the Spiceboyz on March 24. That will make it, he says, "tough to make wholesale changes."

Hudson said he's proud to have been asked to lead the USMNT.

"You know," he said on Friday, "it's not like I'm coming into this situation cold, having been involved in the last campaign, going through the cycle, the Nations League, the Gold Cup, all the qualifiers, and then obviously in Doha, building relationships with the staff, the players. I feel very much connected to the team."

Hudson wouldn't address whether he'd want to be a candidate for job of leading the USMNT to the next World Cup.

"I wasn't really expecting any of this, how this evolved," he added. "When we get back, 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. And I'll continue doing all I can. This is a really, really special team. I know how important this national team is, and I want to do all I can to make sure it's in a good place for whoever comes in, whenever that is."

Photo: John Dorton/ISI Photos

3 comments about "Anthony Hudson: 'I wasn't really expecting any of this'".
  1. John Richardson, January 28, 2023 at 2:06 p.m.

    Lets see how he does - maybe hes the right coach  for the job !

  2. James Madison, January 29, 2023 at 6:46 p.m.

    I have no problem with Hudson, but US SOccer has MESSED UP badly in not only failing to reaffirm Greg Berhalter, but in also failing to have a replacement lined up before it decided to fire him

  3. Kerry Solomon replied, January 30, 2023 at 5:31 p.m.

    Please do not bring GB back.  He will doom the USMNT.

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