Ray of sunshine
Hudson leads turnaround with Miami Fusion
Updated: Tuesday July 24, 2001 1:58 PM
By Terry Baddoo, CNNSI.com
ATLANTA -- One of Major League Soccer's first two expansion clubs, the Miami Fusion has enjoyed a turnaround in its fourth season -- last year, the third-worst team in the league, this year the front runners. And it's all down to an Englishman, who's proved he's more than all talk.
Either way you look at it, Ray Hudson has a way with words. Whether calling the plays from the Miami Fusion television commentary box or creating them on the field with the players -- though the Fusion's new savior knows what comes easier.
"It was harder in the television booth," Hudson said. "Coaching is pretty easy, compared to the TV booth, [where] you've got to be instantaneous, you've got to be entertaining, you've got to be funny, you've got to be insightful."
"In coaching, you just say, 'You go here, you go there.' That's it. But television was tough."
An autocrat he may be, but since swapping the microphone for the coaches' whistle, the "dictatorial" style of this players' coach has produced results, with the Fusion enjoying their best season yet, currently leading the league in points and tied for the lead in goals scored, with 36 on both counts.
"He's got a desire for the game that is infectious; it rubs off on everybody," said midfielder Ian Bishop. "That's helped with what's happened here. He's got a load of lads, I think he got six new players at the start of the season, and he made us gel straight away."
"It's what we do in practice everyday and we just take it out onto the pitch."
As one of those new players, Ian Bishop, has been key to Hudson's success, the former Manchester City midfielder having arrived from England to anchor an attacking Fusion side in a league that has surprised him with its quality.
"People are always asking me, 'How does it compare with the Premier League?'" Bishop said. "It's unfair to try and compare it. But what I will tell you is I've seen players who I think could play in the Premier League -- a lot of good athletes and a lot of good players who pass the ball well and play the game in the right way.
"I can see probably a dozen already that could cope."
With Bishop in the engine room, a potent forward line led by MLS top-scorer Diego Serna of Colombia and one of the best shot stoppers in the league in rising U.S. star Nick Rimando, Hudson's reign has the potential to become dramatically successful.
But the former commentator will not blow his own trumpet.
"These bunch of lads have done me proud and all the credit to them," said Hudson, a former midfielder at Newcastle United and with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. "I put the pieces together and on the field, but it's them who carry the shield and the torch on the field for me and the Fusion.
"They have done magnificently."
How close that is to perfect Fusion will, of course, only be known at season's end.