Editorial (December 2, 2017) – The Colorado Rapids announced Anthony Hudson as their new Head Coach earlier this week. Here are some highlights from Hudson’s first press conference and interview and some thoughts on it.
Unless specified otherwise, every quote is from Hudson himself.
Anthony Hudson Press Conference And Interview: Highlights And Annotations
This is Padraig Smith’s guy:
“We’ve been very clear of who we want to be as a club and the type of football we want to play. The key for us was identifying a coach that shared that philosophy and vision. There’s no doubt in every interaction we had with Anthony, that not only did he share that vision and could articulate it, but he had documentation in terms of how he would execute that. The tactics, strategy and gameplan, that was all something we were very impressed with,” Smith said.
Pablo Mastroeni was fired on August 15th of this year. The Rapids head coaching search took nearly three and a half months. Smith’s elaborated on all the ways they evaluated and pursued candidates. After a long while and much discussion, there’s no doubt:
This is Smith’s guy. He fits in with what the club wants to do philosophically and technically. He’s got a wide variety of experience, and some familiarity with the game in America and the American player.
This opportunity is a culmination of a career for Hudson:
Hudson has a wide variety of experience as a coach. He’s been in the lower division in the U.S. (where he tried to have a relationship with the Rapids once) and England. He’s coached in Bahrain and New Zealand. But he indicated the desire to get back to American and MLS as a coach:
“I’ve been a huge admirer of the MLS for many years. I’ve worked out here for six odd years in the USL. In my family, there’s always been this special link to the states. We’ve always talked about it, ending up in MLS. The biggest thing is the way the club want to play. It just aligns with how I want to play.”
Hudson was born in Seattle, WA. His dad played for the Seattle Sounders back in the NASL days. Hudson was a player-coach for the Wilmington Hammerheads before retiring as a player. He’s accumulated a wide variety of experience that has now brought about this opportunity.
“I love working with players and [I went] on an amazing journey with the players in New Zealand. I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and what they gave me the last three-and-a-half years. The New Zealand job is very unique in international football in the sense that we had four home games in three years. A lot of the time, we had very little preparation time and our players made huge sacrifices. I need to thank the players and of course Pádraig, Wayne and the Kroenke family for giving me this opportunity. Not only am I incredibly proud to be here, but I’ve never felt so ready in my life in terms of what I have to offer, what I bring to the table, and most importantly what I want from the team. I can’t wait to start working.”
This is clearly something he’d been striving for as a professional for years. This is a dream come true for him.
The Rapids Way:
Smith has articulated the mantra of ‘The Rapids Way’ throughout the last few months. Obviously, the new head coach was going to have to fit in with that mold, both the foundation and the necessary changes that would have to be built for 2018.
“There’s been some incredible work done in the past with this club in terms of previous coaches. There’s some good foundations in terms of defensively, how the team works. I want to try and maintain that, but get the team playing a good style of play, a good brand, productive football.
I’ve always been in teams that were, respectfully, not as good as our competition. WE want to play good football, but in a good way, a productive way.
I don’t want to completely throw everything away, there’s been some really good stuff that’s happened in the past. I haven’t had enough dealings with the current staff, but it’s going to happen very soon. I was really impressed when they took over in a really difficult position last year. It’s commendable the work they did.
There’s some really good defensive qualities, but I want to come in and put my own stamp on the team in terms of a system that I believe will get the most out of the players that are currently in place, and will also give us a structure to bring in players that fit that system. I’ve said it before, the bottom line is about winning, but we want to do it by playing a good brand of soccer.”
That’s a pretty good answer in terms of defining ‘The Rapids Way’ and articulating the evolution.
Familiarity with MLS and International player scouting:
“I don’t come in completely cold to this position. I spent six years in USL and I was pushing hardest to have a relationship with the Rapids during my time with [Real] Maryland. I’ve been connected to the league for a long time, and obviously in my last job, we had six or seven national team players here as well. I come in with a good base of understanding, but I’ll also be leaning heavily on the staff currently in place and the front office. I have to say, the first two or three days I’ve been here have been magnificent. I’ve been really impressed with the front office. There’s a really good culture at the club.”
Hudson isn’t an international coach coming in cold turkey who needs to be told what a SuperDraft is, etc. Hudson did say he’ll be leaning on Smith and the front office staff for roster decisions and maneuvering the complexities of MLS, but that they will be working hand-in-hand. All indications are that Smith and Hudson are on the same page. Hudson also said he’s in favor of using analytics where it helps, which also fits in with Smith’s philosophy.
They’ll identify players to bring in and move; Smith will worry about being in compliance with the wonky MLS rules and regulations.
Thoughts on the academy:
“In the past six years, I had a track record of being very favorable towards younger players and wanting to promote them to the first team. I had to do it in my last two jobs and it’s something I’m really looking forward to doing and something that I’m going to welcome. I think the style is going to be aligned.”
The Rapids haven’t really take advantage of their academy, outside of Kortne Ford and Dillon Serna in recent years. Hudson clearly has a track record and a preference to bring along young players. This could be a positive in terms of how the Rapids integrate their academy players and get them started at the USL level.
The work starts now:
“I know what I can do and I know what I want. I also have certain standards and expectations. For me, the most important part is this transition period. We don’t have the luxury of a honeymoon period given the fact that we really only have a four-week preseason.”
The Rapids have a short preseason with CONCACAF Champions League starting up. They’ve already made some roster decisions. With an open DP slot and some TAM, they’ll be spending money in the January transfer window. For players coming in for preseason, they’ll need to be ready to go from the start. Hudson will make sure of that.
I’m not sold on this signing one way or the other yet. It was unlikely that this press conference was going to move the needle so much one way or the other. At the end of the day, Colorado needs to be competitive in the Western Conference in 2018. They have to get the January transfer window right. Hudson was a bit ambiguous anytime he was asked about style or tactics, so I am intrigued to see how he has the team play. The jury’s still out for me, regardless.