Editorial (January 26, 2019) – Colorado Rapids Head Coach Anthony Hudson is very careful about what he says publicly about a particular player. He rarely throws anyone under the bus, preferring to express criticism behind closed doors. In picking through the coach speak, one can see that he’s particular with young players with potential who just need a few lessons learned in order to succeed.
Anthony Hudson can be hard on young Colorado Rapids players and it’s a good thing
There are two such examples from the Rapids 2018 season. Rookie and fourth round MLS SuperDraft pick Niki Jackson impressed in preseason to earn a contract. The Rapids then made history in signing 17-year-old Cole Bassett to a Homegrown deal in July.
Jackson had a few blips through the middle of the summer last season. There were periods where he was just doing physical training with a training staff member rather than participating in team drills and scrimmages. Hudson was hesitant to elaborate on the situation but did often say that Jackson had potential but just needed to apply himself fully.
There could have been a few things at play here. The Rapids have often shielded players when they have been injured. Jackson could have been carrying a knock or several. This was also Jackson’s first season as a professional. Previously, his college season had been four months long. He just might not have been up for it physically and understandably yet. The cynical conspiracy theorist would look at Jackson’s social media posts about Fortnight and think maybe he was just being a 22-year-old who tasted some success and started coasting.
Whatever it was, Jackson got over it and got back into the lineup in the fall. He scored a hat trick in a friendly against Tulsa Roughnecks and then got the game winner in a league match at Minnesota United FC. Whatever Hudson put the rookie through worked and he came out better for it even if it took three months to yield results.
Bassett turned professional with a lot of hype. The club toughed him being the youngest signing in history. On several occasions, Hudson and other members of the coaching staff pointed out Bassett in first team training unprompted. This was before he signed for the club. During a week long road trip to Los Angeles, Bassett and a few other players were sent home early before a game at Los Angeles FC. Hudson stated that he didn’t care for the atmosphere and felt the players were going too “Hollywood.”
Bassett has stated that he was sent home not because he did anything wrong but that the coaching staff had decided he wasn’t going to be in the lineup that weekend. Like the Jackson summer situation, there’s a few possibilities and we’ll probably never get the full story.
Like the Jackson summer situation, Bassett got over it, worked his way into the lineup, and scored a goal in the home finale to help defeat FC Dallas 2-1. After the match, Bassett praised the coaching staff for helping him improve his mentality and the mental side of the game. He didn’t know at the beginning of that week that he was going to start. He earned it in training and it paid off.
Say what you will about Hudson’s methods as a head coach and the failures of 2018. The Rapids have signed several new Homegrowns and Hudson’s in a good position to learn those kids some good lessons and transform them into true professionals.