Rapids to fully embrace analytical approach under new coach Anthony Hudson

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – With the hiring of new head coach Anthony Hudson, the Colorado Rapids believe they’ve found their man; a man who embodies “The Rapids Way.”

“I think we’ve been very clear in what we want to be as a club and the type of football we want to play,” Rapids interim GM and sporting director Padraig Smith told reporters at Hudson’s introductory press conference on Thursday. “I think the key for us was identifying a head coach that shared that philosophy, shared that vision, and had a true pathway to executing against it.”

In addition to his shared philosophies, it was Hudson’s preparation that left a lasting impression on Smith during the interview process.

“There’s no doubt in every interaction that we’ve had with Anthony that not only did he share the vision and articulate it, but he had clear documentation in how he would execute that: the tactics, the strategies, the game plan,” Smith continued. “That was something that we were very impressed with.”

In contrast to predecessor Pablo Mastroeni, who often preached the merits of intangibles like heart and spirit, Hudson’s philosophy indeed appears to align more closely with that of Smith; an analytical approach.

“Analysis is one of those areas that’s really important to me and has been important in my last two jobs,” Hudson said. “I’m going to bring an analyst over with me from New Zealand who’s literally been tied at my hip for three years. That’s an example of how important it is to how I want to coach, how I want to get my message across to the players, how I make decisions. The bottom line is, ‘Is it going to help us win?’ If so, I want to use it.”

Regarding his tactics, Hudson wouldn’t delve into specifics, explaining that he prefers to keep his strategies out of the public eye. But he did give a response when asked what the Rapids will look like under his direction.

“The way I believe football should be played is to play a good brand of soccer,” Hudson said. “We want to play an attacking brand. But the bottom line is getting results.”

That task extends off the pitch and into the locker room and training grounds, where Hudson also hopes to leave a mark.

“The club and myself, we’re totally aligned in how we want to play, but I want to put my stamp on the environment,” said Hudson. “I want to make sure we have a really good foundation that allows us to get the most out of players on the training pitch and ultimately to win.”

As an American-born Englishman who has spent a good portion of his career managing national sides such as Bahrain and, most recently, New Zealand, the question lingers as to whether he’ll be able to make the adjustment to MLS. But having spent the end of his playing career and start of his coaching career stateside, as well as having managed several MLSers during his time with the All Whites, Hudson isn’t shying away from the opportunity.

“I don’t come in completely cold, having spent six years in the USL,” Hudson explained. “I was actually pushing very hard to have a relationship with the Rapids when I was in Maryland [citing the loan deals of Michael Holody and Andre Akpan to Real Maryland Monarchs]. I’ve been connected to the league for a long time. At my last job [in New Zealand] we had six or seven national team players [in MLS] as well. I come in with a good base and understanding of the league, but I’ll be leaning on the staff and the front office.”

It’s still early days in the Anthony Hudson era. But one thing is certain; the Colorado Rapids are heading in a new direction.

“I think it’s been pretty clear to see that there’s been a real change in direction, a real fresh approach in terms of how the club wants to play, the direction the club wants to go in,” he said. “It’s something that really aligns with how I play and how I want to do things. So, the decision was very easy.”