Think of US Soccer’s January camp as a weeklong job fair, in which more than two dozen players with varying levels of experience are invited to Southern California to audition for a spot on the national team.
Except for the one coach who came with a guaranteed job.
earlier this month, Anthony HudsonAssistant Head Coach Greg Berhalter In the past two years, he has been asked to guide the team through their first two matches in a World Cup tournament – the second being on Saturday Negative drawing with Columbia at Dignity Health Sports Park – while the association conducted its standard review of the program and its director.
That changed mid-camp when NFL announced that athletic director Ernie Stewart and men’s general manager Brian McBride, the men charged first with reviewing Berhalter’s performance and deciding whether to re-sign, were leaving the association. This put the whole operation on hold and gave Hudson a new nickname: interim coach, through the summer at least.
“Obviously there are some changes,” Hudson said.
But that hasn’t changed much for Hudson.
“My focus is, until I’m told otherwise, I’m going to do everything I can for the team and the players,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to help the players, help try to improve the team, help try to take the style of play forward and help the team. I just want to keep making things better.”
What he was asked to do over the past week was to identify fresh talent from a youth list that included 13 players who had never played for the national team. He did, giving a record 12 players a US first in the two games and getting flashes of brilliance from many of them. Dual nationality attackers Alejandro Zendegas And Brandon Vazquez and teens Paxton Aronson And Galen Neal They were among those whom Hudson said shone with brilliance.
“Brandon Vazquez is someone who has done a really good job. Paxton is a young player with high potential. He has a lot of quality. He’s a brilliant young player, and we want to support him.”
The Americans, who played a wide open and entertaining – if ultimately – scoreless game Saturday before a crowd of 27,000 at Dignity Health Sports Park, had their three best scoring chances in the first half. Two of them concern Aaronson, whose older brother Brendan played for the United States at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Although Colombia’s quick counter-attack kept the USA stretched all night, in the sixth minute Aronson found himself alone on the left side of the box. After taking a pass from Matthew HopeHe put one goal on goal, but he didn’t shoot well enough and Colombian goalkeeper Álvaro Montero managed to stop the ball with one hand. Eight minutes later, Aronson, who was running relentlessly, made a try from the center of the penalty area into traffic in front of the goal, which was cleared by a Colombian defender.
The other promising try came late in the half when Hoppe sprinted into the penalty area at the end of the first half, then shot himself rather than fetching a pass across the front of the goal to a teammate. Paul Areola, who was signaling aggressively to get the ball. Montero made an easy save, his second and last of the night.
Vazquez, who scored the only goal in Wednesday’s match Losing 2-1 against SerbiaHowever, he almost got another in the dying seconds of regulation time when he just missed the end of a Kellyn Acosta free kick at the far post.
Colombia outscored the United States 12-5, but none of their attempts were particularly annoying United States goalkeeper Shawn Johnson, one of five remaining players on the roster, is called upon to save only one to earn a shutout. He got some help from Neil, who smashed Colombia’s final scoring chance when he slid in to block a shot from Franck Fabra three minutes into injury time.
Despite this year’s first American training camp ending winless in multiple games for the first time since 2013, Hudson was careful to call it a success.
“The goal of this camp was to look for new players,” he said. “We have achieved our goal.”