A ‘difficult’ time to take charge
Anthony Hudson’s first practice in charge of the US men’s national team marked a milestone in the veteran coach’s career in perfect conditions.
Hudson admits that the actual situation is no cause for celebration.
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Hudson has no idea how long he’ll be in charge of the U.S. team, and no one knows if his former boss and close friend, Greg Berhalter, will ever resume his job amid a misconduct investigation and ongoing review of the USMNT program after his death. The contract expired three weeks ago.
“On the one hand, this is a very proud moment, and it’s an honor to be in this position,” Hudson said after Saturday’s inaugural practice at the team’s training complex. “On the other hand, the circumstances in which it happened, I’m a very dedicated person, and it’s hard for me. It’s hard for the staff.”
Hudson admitted he remains in regular contact with Berhalter, who in 2021 promoted him from a head coach position with the U.S. U-20 team to an assistant role.
“I’m close with Greg,” Hudson said. “There’s no course or anything, really, to guide you through moments like this. … This is a really different situation, and I take it back to being honest. I have a lot of respect for Greg, and he gave me this opportunity, so I don’t know why my relationship would change. He doesn’t He’s still a good man.”
Berhalter’s future is in limbo as American football investigates amid a dispute between Berhalter and the family of American player Gio Reina.
After handing Reina a limited role in the World Cup, Berhalter later reveals during a leadership conference that he nearly sent an unnamed player—later revealed to be Reina—into the championship showdown. In response, Danielle Reina — Gio’s mother and wife of former US midfielder Claudio Reina — said she reported to NFL last month a 1991 incident in which Berhalter kicked his future wife, Rosalind — a college classmate of Danielle Reina.
The drama around US Soccer wasn’t limited to the Berhalter and Reyna families either. Sources told ESPN on Friday that Brian McBride will not be returning as the show’s general manager.
All anyone knows for sure is that Hudson runs the US team’s annual January camp in Southern California outside of an official FIFA window. The camp provides a showcase template for the team’s MLS-based talent and any available international players to begin preparations for next year, which includes the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The United States hosts Serbia at BMO Stadium at LAFC on Wednesday, followed by a second exhibition against Colombia in Carson this coming Saturday.
Hudson, 41, is no stranger to leadership roles: the Seattle-born Englishman has captained clubs ranging from MLS’ Newport County and Colorado Rapids to national teams Bahrain and New Zealand in his touring coaching career.
“It’s really important for me to understand that it’s not about me,” Hudson said. “It’s about this group of players who have a chance to get into that window and represent the national team, and there will probably be some players who will do well and stay with us, and have a chance to compete in the next World Cup.”
The US team was in a somewhat similar leadership position at the start of the previous World Cup cycle. 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 said he actually had a “really nice conversation” with Sarashan about the challenges of holding such a temporary role however long it takes.
The Hudson players also admit no fears or disappointments with the current state of leadership in American football.
He said, “You still come and you represent the United States of America.” Julian Grisselthe German-born Vancouver Whitecaps right winger got his first shot with the U.S. team after being granted citizenship in November.
“You play for your country so no matter what happens in the future, you can show that you want to be part of the group going forward, no matter what that looks like. It’s a huge opportunity.”
The full squad roster will not be together until Monday. Six players are scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday night, and Alexander Zendegas He will join from mexico on sunday before Matthew Hope and Jonathan Gomez arrive Monday from Europe.
Zendejas arrives on the heels of FIFA fining Mexico 10,000 Swiss francs (about $11,000) and ordering El Tri to forfeit two recent friendlies in which Zendejas, who played for the United States in the 2015 U-17 World Cup, was used.
“There are a lot of new faces, myself included, and we’re excited to build on what happened at the World Cup and what’s happened over the last four years,” said Grisel. “I think everyone is keen to step in and make a name for themselves to be considered for the future.”