- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

D.C. United's search for a coach ended abruptly yesterday when Major League Soccer eliminated the Miami Fusion, leaving successful coach Ray Hudson unemployed.
Hudson wasn't holding a pink slip for long he was immediately hired by United to replace Thomas Rongen, who was let go in October. Hudson joins United after two years with the Fusion. Last year the Fusion won the Supporters Shield as the best team in MLS during the regular season with a 16-5-5 record.
United also announced it has re-signed Curt Onalfo as assistant coach and that former goalie Mark Simpson has retired from playing and will become the club's goalkeeping coach.
"We're excited to have Ray join D.C. United as the new head coach," said Kevin Payne, the head of soccer operations at the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which operates five MLS teams, including United. "I am confident that our team and Ray Hudson will prove to be a great marriage and that we can all look forward to an exciting style of play."
Hudson will have the mission of leading the three-time MLS champions to greener pastures after the club under Rongen failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons.
"I'm salivating to work with such a talented group of players before the league's greatest fans," Hudson said. "I'm relishing this challenge, and it is my intention to help bring United back to the pinnacle of soccer where it belongs."
A native of Great Britain where he once played for Newcastle United Hudson also starred in the North American Soccer League with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Hudson's Cinderella story in MLS is legendary.
Less than three years ago, he was cleaning swimming pools, coaching kids and doing color commentary for a television station, before the desperate Miami management hired him to coach. In his first year at Miami in 2000, the club struggled with a 12-15-5 record. Last year, Hudson turned the Fusion around after molding a group of aging veterans he brought together in the offseason.
In 2001, Miami won the Eastern Division and stormed into the playoffs before being beaten by eventual champion San Jose in the semifinals.
At Miami, Hudson straightened out the talented but temperamental Diego Serna and revived the career of former league MVP Preki. He also has brought out the best in 22-year-old goalie Nick Rimando, a potential player for United in Friday's dispersal draft now that Simpson has retired.
The loquacious Hudson is the most quotable personality in MLS.
Before he was named Miami's coach, Hudson was the team's color analyst on its broadcasts and was known for his brutally honest commentary. Once in the broadcast booth, Hudson called the Fusion an "embarrassment … gutless … not a shadow of a footballer on the field." When the Miami management reminded Hudson who was paying his wages, the Englishman responded: "I cannot put lipstick on a pig anymore."
Hudson will head to New York later today in preparation for Friday's MLS dispersal draft, in which many of his former players will be looking for new clubs. United's full-time preseason training schedule begins Jan. 21.
With United's technical staff in place, Payne will now focus on his job with AEG, and United senior vice president Stephen Zack will oversee all business operations for the club.

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