Caretaker USA coach Anthony Hudson admitted it was “difficult” to direct his first training camp with the national team as Gregg Berhalter’s future remains in the balance.
Hudson was announced as the USMNT’s interim head coach earlier this month after Berhalter, his former boss and close friend, was embroiled in bombastic “blackmail” allegations.
Berhalter, who guided 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 its review to Qatar.
Caretaker manager Anthony Hudson admitted it was “difficult” to take charge under the circumstances
Gregg Berhalter’s future remains in limbo after he was embroiled in “blackmail” allegations
As US Soccer also investigates allegations that Berhalter was “blackmailed” in a sensational row between him and US player Gio Reyna’s family, the manager has yet to be offered a new deal or appointed a new manager.
Hudson therefore temporarily took charge of the side’s two friendlies against Serbia and Colombia this month.
“On one hand, this is a very proud moment and it’s an honor to be in this position,” Hudson said after Saturday’s opening practice session at the team’s training complex.
“On the other hand, the circumstances in which it happens, I’m a very loyal person, and it’s difficult for me. It is difficult for the employees.”
Reyna’s mother Danielle (left) told US Soccer that Berhalter kicked his wife-to-be in 1991
Hudson admitted he’s still in regular contact with Berhalter, who promoted him from a head coaching job with the US U20 team to an assistant role in 2021.
“I’m very close to Gregg,” Hudson said. “There is no coaching class or anything to guide you in moments like these. … This is a really different situation and I’m just resorting to 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 the balance as US Soccer investigates the dispute between Berhalter and the Reynas, with Gio staying with Dortmund during this camp.
In response to Berhalter’s slur of Gio Reyna during the World Cup, Danielle Reyna – Gio’s mother and wife of former US midfielder Claudio Reyna – updated US Soccer last month on an incident in 1991 in which Berhalter kicked his future wife Rosalind – Danielle Reyna had college roommates.
Gio Reyna has surprisingly been given a limited role in the World Championship fight for the USA
Berhalter went public in 1991 for kicking his wife Rosalind (left) during an argument
The US Soccer drama isn’t just limited to the Berhalter and Reyna families either. On Friday, the FA’s athletic director, Earnie Stewart, told the federation’s board of directors that Brian McBride is stepping down as general manager of the men’s team.
All anyone knows for certain is that Hudson is officiating the US team’s annual January camp in Southern California outside of an official FIFA window. The camp typically provides a showcase for the team’s MLS-based talent and any available international club players to begin preparations for the coming year, which includes the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The USA host Serbia at Los Angeles FC’s BMO Stadium on Wednesday night, followed by a second encounter against Colombia on Saturday in Carson.
Brian McBride USMNT General Manager will not be returning to his position with US Soccer
Hudson, 41, is no stranger to leadership roles: the Seattle-born Englishman has had a varied coaching career, leading clubs from MLS’s Newport County and Colorado Rapids to the national teams of Bahrain and New Zealand.
“It’s really important for me to understand that this isn’t about me,” Hudson said. “It’s about that group of players who have the opportunity to come into that window and represent the national team and there may be some players there who do well and stay with us and have a chance to compete in the next one WM.”
The US team was in a pretty 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 interim coach until Berhalter was hired in December 2018.
Hudson said he’s already had a “really nice conversation” with Sarachan about the challenges of filling this temporary role for as long as it lasts.
Hudson’s players also admit no concerns or disappointment at their current leadership position in US soccer.
No stranger to leadership roles, Hudson, 41, was an assistant in Qatar
“They still come in and represent the United States of America,” said Julian Gressel, the German-born Vancouver Whitecaps full-back who got his first chance with the US team after naturalizing in November. “You’re playing for your country, so no matter what happens in the future, you can show that you want to be part of the group that’s moving forward, no matter what that looks like. It’s a great opportunity.”
The full roster of the team won’t be together until Monday. Six players are due to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday night and Alejandro Zendejas will join from Mexico on Sunday before Matthew Hoppe and Jonathan Gómez arrive from Europe on Monday.
Zendejas comes after FIFA fined Mexico 10,000 Swiss francs (about US$11,000) and ordered El Tri to lose two recent friendlies in which Zendejas, who played at the 2015 U17 World Cup for the US played.
“There are many new faces, myself included, and we look forward to building on what has happened at the World Cup and over the past four years,” said Gressel. “I think everyone is eager to step in and make a name for themselves to be considered for the future.”