Hudson eyes USMNT growth amid leadership void

CARSON, Calif. — U.S. men’s national team interim manager Anthony Hudson said he’s going to continue to do all he can to move the team forward, now that it looks like he’ll be in charge possibly through the summer.

The U.S. is set to play the second of two friendlies Saturday against Colombia at LA Galaxy‘s Dignity Health Sports Park. Originally that seemed to be the limit of Hudson’s time in charge. But the last month has witnessed immense upheaval within the USMNT program.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

U.S. World Cup manager Gregg Berhalter is currently out of contract, and awaiting the results of a USSF investigation into an incident of domestic violence that took place between him and his now wife Rosalind back in 1991. That left Hudson to handle the current camp.

But that sense of uncertainty intensified this week with the announcement that sporting director Earnie Stewart and USMNT general manager Brian McBride were both leaving the organization. With USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone stating that the she hoped to fill the positions of sporting director and USMNT manager “by the end of the summer,” Hudson’s stint as manager looks set to last well beyond just the two games in January.

“So we found out over the last few days. Obviously, there’s been some changes,” Hudson said at Friday’s news conference. “And yeah, 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.”

Hudson’s remit has been to introduce some young players, and start to build some depth for the World Cup cycle ahead, one that will be capped by the U.S. hosting the 2026 competition alongside Canada and Mexico. To that end, he said he would continue with that approach, though he admitted that with some of the players still in preseason mode, fitness would dictate many of his lineup decisions.

“Firstly, we want to put them in a position to do well, and then we want them to show us what they can do,” he said. “Their objective firstly is to perform, have a good game and stay in the national team set-up. That’s what we’re looking for going into [Saturday].”

Now that Hudson will be around for multiple international windows, there is the question of how much he’ll try to put his own stamp on things, especially given the fact that in future matches — starting with the CONCACAF Nations League matches in March — there will much more at stake.

Hudson said he’ll begin reaching out to the European-based players as soon as this camp is done, but recognizes that on-field time with the players is limited. He said he’ll have only three days to prepare ahead of the March window, making it “tough to make wholesale changes.” That means building on what was implemented under Berhalter.

“Going forward, look, I think it’s really clear in the sense that we have a very, very clear game idea,” he said. “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.

“So, we naturally, whoever is in this seat, has this type of game idea. Naturally you want to keep evolving and moving it forward. So that’s the plan for us.”

– Bonagura: What next for USMNT amid leadership void?

The U.S. will be facing a Colombia side that is almost as inexperienced as the U.S. Only defender Frank Fabra has more than three caps. But there are some faces that fans of MLS teams will recognize, including LAFC forward Chicho Arango and Columbus striker Cucho Hernandez. And Hudson is eager to see how his team bounces back from Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Serbia.

“[It’s] a different type of test from the other night,” said Hudson. “They’re a good team, really good. I’m seeing good individuals, a lot of good one-v-one players; quick, direct players, good on the counterattack.”

Hudson also welcomed the news that the U.S. would be hosting the 2024 Copa America, which will add a critical slate of competitive games given that it’s a near certainty that the U.S. won’t have to play any World Cup qualifiers due to its role as co-host.

“It’s exciting and, it’s something that I know with the players for sure are looking forward to,” he said. “It’s going to be amazing for the fans in this country. It’s great news. I think it’s great for growing the game here, and really exciting for sure.”

But for now, Hudson is preparing for Colombia, as well as what lies ahead in the next few months.

“I wasn’t really expecting any of any of this, how this is evolved,” he said.

He later added, “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.”


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar