COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – After less than 18 months in charge, Colorado Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson has been relieved of his duties, the club announced Wednesday.
Following the news, Rapids executive vice president and general manager Padraig Smith spoke with reporters outlining the rationale behind the decision.
“We know where we’re trying to get to, we know what we’re trying to achieve,” Smith said. “But sometimes you have to make changes along the way to achieve your goals, to put the club on the right track and that’s what we’ve done here."
“It’s never nice,” Smith continued. “That’s not a good conversation to have, but we’re in professional sports and that’s what we signed up for. It’s not nice, but I think Anthony understands the way results have been.”
Hudson was hired in November of 2017 following a “worldwide” coaching search by Smith and the Rapids front office. Upon his hiring, the former manager of the New Zealand men’s national team was praised for his “analytical approach” to the game.
Hudson had even once been praised by former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp as a “new Jose Mourinho.”
But in MLS, the results weren’t there. The Rapids won just eight of 43 league matches under Hudson and are currently winless this season through nine games, despite a recent offseason roster overhaul.
“I think at the end of the day you look at it and think ‘This is a results-driven business’,” Smith continued. “We’re 0-7-2, we haven’t progressed in the way we wanted to progress. We want to be a perennial playoff team. We feel like we’ve got a bunch of players in there that have the talent to be playoff competitive, I genuinely do.”
“We are fighting at the bottom with a bottom group of players and we have to find a way to pick up results whilst also being a team that tries to play a certain way,” he said at the time. “And we just have to find that balance.”
In his session with reporters on Wednesday, Smith alluded to those comments, putting his support behind the group, all while demanding more.
“I think if you look at the group that’s one thing I said to them: ‘It’s not an 0-7-2 group, it’s not an 0-7-2 bunch of players,” Smith said. “I could look around and look them all in the eye and say, ‘I’m proud of the group that we’ve got here and we should be doing better.’”
Smith wouldn’t give a timeline on the club’s search for Hudson’s replacement, but did reveal that Colorado has already looked at several candidates. In the interim, Colorado will be coached by former player Conor Casey, who has served as an assistant since 2017.
“He’s a genuine club legend and when you talk about guys willing to bleed for their club, that’s Conor,” Smith said of Casey.
Casey’s first task as head coach will be attempting to secure the team’s first win of 2019, which the Rapids hope will come this Friday (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; TSN1/3 in Canada) at home when hosting Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
“We have to start making progress, picking up points,” said Smith. “The rest will take care of itself. We’ve got to focus on what we can control. Right now what we control is the players' performances. They need to get out there starting Friday.”