Editor’s Note: We’re kicking off 2018 with a letter written by the Colorado Rapids’ new coach, Anthony Hudson. Thank you to Coach Hudson for taking the time to put this together and sharing it with Burgundy Wave/our readers!
If you’re taking the time to read this note today, it’s probably fair to assume that you’re a supporter of Colorado Rapids Soccer Club. And one of the great privileges I’ve had since officially joining the club four weeks ago, is the opportunity to meet many of you, to learn your names, hear your histories, and chat about the club. But for those who I have not yet had the pleasure, I wanted to take a moment on this cold, New Year’s Day morning and touch base with you personally, let you know how happy I am to be here, and how honored I feel to manage the club you support.
Since arriving, I have been asked on an untold number of occasions, by supporters like yourself, what my favorite part about being a coach is.
Imagine DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, in the locker room. The stadium is packed. The crowd is buzzing. Nervous energy around the place. And just before you walk out, you look at the people standing beside you: the players, the technical staff, the trainers, etc., and you know with certainty that each and every person is completely on the same page. That we’ve all done the work. We’re totally prepared. That no stone has been left unturned, and as a result we have the belief that we are going out to win.
That moment… the confidence that comes with complete preparation. That’s my favorite part.
Another question commonly asked by supporters over the past few weeks is “Why the Rapids?”
It’s pretty simple. Having coached in Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania, very few clubs I’ve encountered possess as clear a vision for its future as the Rapids do. In my early conversations with Pádraig, in reading the press statements coming out of the club, in listening closely to who this club is, where they want to go, and how they want to get there, it became very clear, very fast, that the organization shares my vision for how the game should be played. And ultimately, the challenge of bringing that vision to life was simply too rare and too special to pass up.
Don’t get me wrong. Saying goodbye to the All Whites was hard. It was very difficult to leave a group of players who have given so much for their country, and I’ll always be appreciative of the effort and resolve they showed during my three years there. I’ll also be forever grateful to the Federation itself, for giving me the opportunity. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But I’m a coach at my core, and at my happiest when I’m on the training pitch. So, in that sense, and given how little that actually occurs on the international level, a return to club soccer was very important to me – perhaps even overdue.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that coming to MLS represents something of a homecoming for me personally. I was born in United States – I’m an American citizen – and my dad played professionally here. Many years ago, I was also fortunate to have coached here. I’ve long admired the league and I have watched its incredible growth from abroad. My family has always felt a special connection to soccer in this country, and that – combined with the Rapids’ philosophy – were ultimately the clinching factors in my decision to come to Colorado. It’s a good fit. And I’ve never felt more prepared for anything in my life.
“What are your goals for this team?” I get that one a lot too.
Let’s be very clear:
- Our goal is to be a perennial playoff team.
- Our goal is to bring another MLS Cup home to Colorado.
To do that, our focus must be on getting the foundation and environment right. Making sure each and every player knows exactly what’s expected of them both on-and-off the field before they arrive.
Making sure they ALL understand the importance of coming in to camp fit and ready.
Making sure they ALL understand our tactical approach, and where they fit in to that.
As a team, we’re going to have structure, high expectations, and an insatiable appetite for excellence. It’s a large undertaking, and one that is of course easier said than done. But what I’m saying is that much of our ability to have success in 2018 hinges on our ability to get it right today. To believe in our process and to execute effectively. On each one of these fronts, I believe we’ll accomplish our goals.
One last thing. One last question.
A few weeks ago I spent some time meeting with supporters at Celtic on Market during the MLS Cup and I was asked by someone there, “If you could get every Rapids fan into a room together, what would you say to them?”
It’s a challenging question and one that ultimately prompted this note. So here goes:
I would say, on a personal level, thank you all for being so kind in my first couple of weeks here. Everywhere I’ve gone since arriving, Rapids fans have met me with a smile and handshake. You’ve been polite and thank you for welcoming me to your beautiful city. It’s already begun to feel like home, and my dogs love the snow.
I’d also say that given today is the first day of the new year, on behalf of the club, we hope you will join us in viewing the future of the Rapids with a fresh set of eyes and measured patience as we strive to reach our lofty goals. We have new front office leadership, a new technical staff, and a whole host of new players. It will take time, but I know the future is bright.
It’s only 50 days now until our Champions League opener at home. It’ll be here before you know it.
See you soon.
Happy New Year!