With Colorado officially eliminated from playoff contention in 2018, Head Coach Anthony Hudson continues instilling in the Rapids that there is plenty of work to be done in the ongoing rebuilding project within this team. “We’re all aware it’s not been a good year,” states Hudson beginning with the frustration of fans as well as every member of the squad. “Points-wise, it’s been horrible for us to look at. As a staff, every day we come in, and as upbeat as we are, underneath we’re absolutely dying because we’re frustrated. What we’re totally committed to is we want to play some of the best soccer this club has played,” he says in finishing out his first campaign in Colorado.
While a bit apprehensive about putting out points/win specifics, Coach Hudson explains what he would like to see from the Rapids to finish 2018 and consider the next handful of matches a success to carry into 2019. “I think if we’re focused on having big, big brave performances, and playing a way that people are proud of. I believe that off the back of that we’ll get results. Also, I believe firmly, if we continue to improve that, we’re going to continue to build the foundations for when we do add that final 3 or 4 attacking players that we need and will be coming in.”
One thing is clear-this roster has undergone turnover from day one and continued deep into the season. The fact that strikers are still a target at this late date, underscores how Colorado has been in an uphill battle the entire season. According to Hudson, this is still the case, but he is happy with the groundwork that has been laid, albeit sometimes painfully in front of fans’ eyes, and that there will be an improvement no doubt.
“We’ve set a foundation, we’ve set a solid base, so whoever comes in next season this is how we are-this is our way, which is a million miles away from where we were at the beginning of the season. I understand that I’m also the one that when the results are not good, everything I say is not good. People want answers of why we’re not getting results.”
I asked Anthony if there was anything he has found tougher than he expected coming into Colorado last December, to which he was honest in saying there were things he’d do differently and even he had been caught up a bit in the excitement of the opportunity with the Rapids. “Looking back, my biggest regret was when I came in, with so many new faces coming in, and we were doing a lot of media leading up to the season, in all of that media we still hadn’t signed our strikers. The biggest thing for me is I look back and I got so carried away and excited, I’m meeting all the fans when I came, everyone was so ambitious and hungry, and I think it was just a little misjudged to come out and say our intentions when really we hadn’t got the team set.”
“We’re making predictions, and if I’m in the same position again, I don’t know…because at the time here was a lot of excitement around, and we all believe, and we’re all ambitious, and to be fair we want to do well. But, looking back it was probably a little bit misjudged of the situation in the sense of we were really setting our stall out and we hadn’t signed still strikers. I think I personally could’ve done a better job there.”
That said, however, Hudson believes the old adage ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ will play out in Commerce City next season.
“One thing I know is when you go through a run like we went through (9 defeats in a row), coming through the other side, bear in mind it’s a new staff as well-a new staff coming into an old staff, loads of new players-and we got through that period and everyone was still pulling together.”
“That has done so much for us, I’m not recommending it, but we came through it. The environment, the culture, all the bedrock of what we have to build a successful team is strong now. If you ask any of the players, they’ll tell you where we’re at now in terms of early in the season in standards is night to day compared to early in the season. That’s important.”
The one positive sign within any rebuilding project, and don’t kid yourselves Rapids fans-this was almost an entire overhaul of players within the locker room, is are you better off than when this whole process started? “We’re in a miles-better position now,” Hudson tells The Voice of C38 confidently. “We know exactly what we need to add to this team, not just the normal things-a striker-but everyone is clear on character, the type of player, and we’ve got really specific targets starting now. In the short term, I believe in this group to deliver some big performances where me personally is proud and I hope the fans are too.”