USA’s interim coach Anthony Hudson admitted it has been ‘difficult’ to take charge of his first training camp with the national team as Gregg Berhalter’s future remains in limbo.
Hudson was announced as the USMNT’s temporary head coach earlier this month after Berhalter, his former boss and close friend, was embroiled in bombshell ‘blackmail’ allegations.
Berhalter, who led the team to the last 16 at the World Cup, saw his contract with US Soccer expire at midnight on January 1 as the federation continues to conduct its review post-Qatar.
Interim coach Anthony Hudson admitted it was ‘difficult’ to take charge in the circumstances
Gregg Berhalter’s future remains in limbo after he was embroiled in ‘blackmail’ allegations
With US Soccer also investigating allegations Berhalter was ‘blackmailed’ amid a sensational dispute involving him and the family of US player Gio Reyna, it has yet to offer a new deal to the coach nor appoint a new manager.
Hudson therefore stepped up to temporarily take charge of the team for its two friendly matches against Serbia and Colombia this month.
‘On one hand, this is a very prideful moment, and it´s an honor to be in this position,’ Hudson said after the opening workout Saturday at the team’s training complex.
‘On the other side, the circumstances in which it comes about, I´m a very loyal person, and it´s difficult for me. It´s difficult for the staff.’
Reyna’s mom Danielle (left) told US Soccer about Berhalter kicking his future wife in 1991
Hudson acknowledged he´s still in regular contact with Berhalter, who promoted him in 2021 from a head coaching job with the US under-20 team to an assistant role.
‘I´m close with Gregg,’ Hudson said. ‘There´s no coaching course or anything, really, to guide you in moments like this. … This is a really different situation, and I just fall back on being honest. I have a lot of respect for Gregg, and he gave me this opportunity, so I don´t know why my relationship would change. He´s still a good man.’
Berhalter’s future remains in limbo while US Soccer conducts its investigation into the row between Berhalter and the Reynas, with Gio staying with Dortmund during this camp.
In response to Berhalter’s disparagement of Gio Reyna during the World Cup, Danielle Reyna – Gio’s mother and former U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna’s wife – notified U.S. Soccer last month of an incident in 1991 in which Berhalter kicked his future wife, Rosalind – Danielle Reyna´s college roommate.
Gio Reyna was surprisingly given a limited role for the USA in their World Cup campaign
Berhalter went public about kicking his wife Rosalind (left) during an argument in 1991
The drama around US Soccer hasn´t been limited to the Berhalter and Reyna families, either. On Friday, US Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart told the body´s board of directors that Brian McBride is out as the general manager of the men´s team.
All that anyone knows for sure is that Hudson is running the US team´s annual January camp in Southern California outside an official FIFA window. The camp typically provides a showcase for the team´s MLS-based talents and any available international club players to begin preparations for the upcoming year, which includes the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The US hosts Serbia at Los Angeles FC´s BMO Stadium on Wednesday night, followed by a second exhibition against Colombia in Carson next Saturday.
Brian McBride USMNT General Manager will not return to his position with USA soccer
The 41-year-old Hudson is no stranger to leadership roles: The Seattle-born Englishman has led clubs ranging from Newport County and MLS´ Colorado Rapids to the national teams of Bahrain and New Zealand in his peripatetic 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 that have an opportunity to come in in this window and represent the national team, and potentially there´s some players in there that will do well and stay with us, and have a chance to compete at the next World Cup.’
The US team was in a fairly similar leadership situation 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 already ‘had a really nice conversation’ with Sarachan about the challenges of filling this temporary role for however long it lasts.
Hudson’s players also aren’t acknowledging any concerns or disappointment with the current state of leadership in US Soccer.
The 41-year-old Hudson is no stranger to leadership roles and was an assistant in Qatar
‘You’re still coming in and you’re representing the United States of America,’ said Julian Gressel, the German-born Vancouver Whitecaps fullback getting his first shot with the US team after receiving citizenship in November. ‘You’re playing for your country, so no matter what happens in the future, you can show you want to be part of the group moving forward, no matter what that will look like. It’s a big opportunity.’
The team’s full roster won’t be together until Monday. Six players are scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday night, and Alejandro Zendejas will join from Mexico on Sunday before Matthew Hoppe and Jonathan Gómez arrive Monday from Europe.
Zendejas arrives in the wake of FIFA fining Mexico 10,000 Swiss francs (approximately $11,000) and ordering El Tri to forfeit two recent friendlies in which it used Zendejas, who played for the United States at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup.
‘There’s a lot of new faces, including myself, and we’re excited to build on what has happened in the World Cup and what’s happened over the past four years,’ Gressel said. ‘I think everybody is eager to step in and make a name for themselves to be considered for the future.’