Hudson seeking USMNT growth in final January friendly


The U.S. men’s national team closes out its January camp on Saturday against Colombia and the goal is clear for interim head coach Anthony Hudson and his keep the overall growth of the program going forward. Hudson will lead the USMNT squad in its final tune-up before the resumption of Concacaf Nations League play in March, providing the opportunity for several players to improve their stocks within the squad. A total of eight players made their USMNT senior debuts in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Serbia at Banc of California Stadium, including Alex Zendejas, Brandon Vazquez, Julian Gressel, and Gabriel Slonina. Several more could join that growing list on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park as the USMNT seeks a bounce-back performance and result. “Firstly, we want to put them in a position to do well, and then we want them to show us what they can do,” Hudson said in his pre-match press conference on Friday. “Their objective firstly is to perform, have a good game and stay in the national team set-up. That’s what we’re looking for going into [Saturday]. “Going forward, look, I think it’s really clear in the sense that we have a very, very clear game idea,” he added. “We want to be a team that plays attacking soccer. We want to possess the ball, we want to be brave in possession defensively, we’re clear about how we want to defend. So, we naturally, whoever is in this seat, has this type of game idea. Naturally you want to keep evolving and moving it forward. So that’s the plan for us.” John Dorton/ISI Photos The USMNT takes the field on Saturday, only two days after U.S. Soccer announced the departure of sporting director Earnie Stewart and general manager Brian McBride from their current roles. It marks the latest changes within U.S. Soccer, adding to the continuing investigation of former USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. Hudson will remain interim head coach for the USMNT for now until a decision is made on the program’s long-term plans, and the former Colorado Rapids manager is preparing for a lengthy stay if needed. “So we found out over the last few days,” Hudson said about the U.S. Soccer front office changes. “Obviously, there’s been some changes. And yeah, my focus is for however long it is, just to keep doing all I can to progress the team, prepare the team starting in March, and that’s it. Obviously, it’s a fluid situation, but that’s my focus right now.” “I wasn’t really expecting any of any of this, how this is evolved. I’ll continue doing all I can. This is a really, really special team. I know how important this national team is, and I want to do all I can to make sure it’s in a good place for whoever comes in, whenever that is.” John Dorton/ISI Photos Saturday marks the first meeting between the USMNT and Colombia since 2018, as well as the 21st overall meeting between the two national teams. Los Cafeteros’ squad will feature six MLS players including Cristian Arango, Cucho Hernandez, and Santiago Moreno, as well as several others fighting for a long-term role in Colombia’s next World Cup Qualifying campaign. Colombia will mark a tough, but beneficial test for the youthful USMNT squad, and Hudson is expecting a lively affair from Carson on Saturday night. “They’re a good team, really good team, good individuals,” said Hudson of Colombia. “They’re an aggressive team, really a lot of good one-v-one players, lot of quick players, direct players, good on the counterattack. And then within there they have a handful of really, really top individuals that obviously we’re familiar with here in MLS. This is going to be a different test, and I would imagine that with the crowd that is going to come, it’s going to be an intense game.”