U.S. Soccer has reportedly found a replacement for Tab Ramos as U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team coach. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly an inspiring choice.
Multiple reports state that former Colorado Rapids and New Zealand National Team coach Anthony Hudson is set to become the new U.S. U-20 coach. It ends a more than two month vacancy in the position and along with Laura Harvey’s hiring as U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team coach, it leaves U.S. Soccer with just 11 vacancies in its youth national teams.
Its hard to imagine how Hudson wound up with this job. He was an abject failure with the Rapids, finishing the 2018 season with just 31 points in 34 games and opening the 2019 season with seven defeats and two draws. His current MLS managerial record stands at 8-26-9.
On top of that poor domestic record, he’s never really succeeded with men’s national teams. He coached the Bahrain National Team from 2013-2014 but only earned a third-place finish in the West Asian Football Federation Championship.
After taking over the New Zealand National Team, he easily qualified out of Oceania but couldn’t prevail past Peru to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. In addition, New Zealand lost all three games at the 2017 Confederations Cup.
It also doesn’t help that at least one of his former players has come out against this hire. Jared Watts, a former member of the Colorado Rapids under Hudson and a long-time U.S. youth national team member, had this to say.
Hudson to coach U-20 USMNT team? Honestly couldn’t think of a more shocking hire. Called it after a week of being in preseason his Rapid tenure would be a disaster. How could you not target Jamie Franks, Pablo, Wilmer, or Beasley? pic.twitter.com/akA3czJskY
— Jared Watts (@JaredWatts02) January 8, 2020
In Hudson’s defense, success in the professional game isn’t necessarily a perfect barometer of whether someone will be successful youth national team coach, and vice versa. Brad Friedel was a youth coach at Tottenham during his later playing years and after retiring and then he coached the U.S. U-19 MNT before taking over the New England Revolution, and he wasn’t successful there. Similarly, John Hackworth struggled in his first pro stint at the Philadelphia Union to develop a winner after solid stunts as U.S. U-17 MNT coach.
Ultimately, it is unclear who is making decisions at U.S. Soccer regarding these hires, but Hudson has a lot to prove in the coming months to show that he is the right choice. Missing the FIFA U-20 World Cup would be a nightmare for the federation and if Hudson can’t lead the U.S. there, it will be another bad mark on his career.