- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 12, 2002

What kind of coaching style can D.C. United fans expect from new coach Ray Hudson?

Under Hudson last season, the Miami Fusion played some of the league's most exciting and attacking soccer while remaining disciplined on the back line and in goal. The team led Major League Soccer in goals (57) and reached the semifinals of the playoffs. United fans are eager for similar results.

Hudson's genius in 2001 was his ability to mold veterans like Preki (38), Ian Bishop (36), Chris Henderson (31), Jim Rooney (33) and Carlos Llamosa (32) with international stars like Alex Pineda-Chacon and Diego Serna. It was an odd collection of talent, but Hudson was able to soothe some big egos, organize the team well on the field and bring out the best in his players a remarkable achievement for a man with no professional coaching experience.

Hopefully, Hudson will be able to do the same with United, a team whose morale has sunk pretty low after two miserable seasons.

Hudson's attacking philosophy comes from his mentor, Rodney Marsh, a former player and coach for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the old North American Soccer League. Said Hudson: "His game was very uncomplicated. He was entertaining and savvy."

Marsh, who played for England's Queens Park Rangers, was never boring to watch. In his day he was one of the best dribblers of the ball, similar to the great George Best. Like Hudson, he also had quite a mouth that often got him in trouble.

Hudson was quite a player himself, competing in 195 games and scoring 44 goals in the NASL, mostly for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. In his definitive history of the league, Colin Jose calls Hudson "one of the finest midfield players in the history of the NASL."

Hudson says he will allow his players a lot of room on the field and try not to overcoach.

"The players have much more of a profound influence than the coach," Hudson said. "Marsh instilled that in me."

Over the years as a player, Hudson said he learned more from bad coaches than good ones.

"I was never overcoached by my father, and I am grateful for that," Hudson said. "He allowed me to enjoy the game."

Hudson promises discipline at United but said he won't be a dictator.

"I don't like being at the center of attention," Hudson said. "I tried to give all the praise back to the players at Miami. They are the heroes. They are the warriors. Coaching is overrated. One day a team will say, 'We don't need a coach,' and just go out and play."

U.S. women The U.S. women's clash against Mexico tonight at sold-out Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., is the beginning of a three-week stint that will take them to China to face Norway (Jan. 23), Germany (Jan. 25) and China (Jan. 27), three of the world's best teams, in the Four Nations Women's Tournament.

The Americans will be without Washington Freedom forward Mia Hamm, who has a knee injury. Freedom midfielder Monica Gerardo highlights the Mexican team roster. Gerardo has played 25 times for Mexico and helped the team qualify for the 1999 World Cup.

D.C. United notes Midfielder Bobby Convey has graduated from the MLS Project 40 program and no longer will receive roster protection as a youth development player. … Former United coach Thomas Rongen won his first game with the U.S. under-20 team, 1-0 against Canada on Thursday at Chula Vista, Calif. …

John Maessner, a former United midfielder, announced his retirement this week. Maessner, 32, helped United win three MLS Cups (1996, 1997, 1999). Overall, he played in 73 games for United and scored 14 goals. Maessner will be an assistant coach with the men's team at Virginia, where he played under Bruce Arena in his college days.

Gold Cup American fans will have to dig into their pockets if they want to see the World Cup-bound U.S. team play in this month's Gold Cup. Both opening-round games, against South Korea (Jan. 19) and Cuba (Jan. 21), are on pay-per-view. If the U.S. Soccer Federation wants to boost interest in the game in America, it should work harder trying to get these games on cable or free TV.

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