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Editor’s Letter: One year of Hudson River Blue and counting

A look back, and a look ahead.

Dear Reader,

One year ago today, I took over as the Managing Editor of Hudson River Blue. Talk about timing: New York City FC had just saved their season with a run of wins, and the squad suddenly looked unusually sharp just as the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs snapped into focus. My first game recap? The 1-1 draw with Philadelphia at Yankee Stadium in which a Taty Castellanos header won him the Golden Boot. My first interview was with NYCFC CEO Brad Sims a little more than a week later. Not a bad start.

Even better, I finally had a professional reason to obsess over a team that I love even if they had broken my heart one postseason after another. NYCFC had always underperformed in the playoffs, but to my shock they were finally realizing their potential almost the moment I started covering them. Just six weeks after being given the keys to the HRB car, I was in the stands in Portland, watching Ronny Deila strip down to his underpants and hold a brief workout session on the plastic grass at Providence Park

It was a whiplash-fast start to my time here. I’m a professional writer with more than 25 yearsof experience, and while I’ve reported on a variety of topics for a number of publications, this was my first time covering sports. Make no mistake, I’ve followed soccer all of my life — I support la Roja by heritage, I grew up watching the LA Aztecs play in the hazy emptiness of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and my five-a-side coed indoor team won our league in 2011 and 2012. More important, I’ve been in the stands at Yankee Soccer Stadium since 2015 — I remember the days of Adam Nemec, a striker who not only couldn’t score but who also had a hard time staying on his feet.

Since arriving at HRB, my aim has been to help the site evolve and grow alongside NYCFC, and that you hardly notice the changes we make. Some of the nerdy tweaks are for insiders, such as creating departments that have their own tags and that are linked in the navigation bar at the top of the page: Now everything from Game Recaps, to Transfer News and Rumors, to Tactics Formations, and Analysis, to NYCFC Kits and Merch, to the never-ending Stadium Saga, to more than 30 other topics are indexed, archived, and (hopefully) easier for you to find should you want to go down those rabbit holes. 

Other changes you might intuit. Our readership grew about 150% in the last year, and the audience is demographically diverse. I firmly believe that good sports writing should be insightful, opinionated, provocative, and inclusive — agree or disagree with what you find in these pages, I hope that you find the writing inviting and respectful.

Some changes are more readily apparent. In these past 12 months, we added the voices of some phenomenal contributors, and I’m personally grateful that John BaneyNoah Kassell-YungMychal KerstingAndrew LeighAnthony McKennaJames NaltonJenna Tonelli, and Derian Trahan now write for HRB. This site owes everything to them.

They join longtime writers Arjun Ahuja, Calvin Anthony Daniel, Javier Gutierrez, and Raf Noboa y Rivera — who also happens to be the Founding Editor of HRB. It’s a good crew.

While I feel crushed by how the 2022 season ended on Sunday, and I’m still processing the feelings that rise to the surface after failing to win a game that you were likely going to lose all along (let’s be honest) but that you tantalizing almost won, it’s in a quiet moments like this one that we find we have the time to look back, and look ahead. 

Soccer-wise, I hope that New York City make the most of this offseason, and build a team that’s engineered to win the 2023 MLS Cup. Writing-wise, I hope that HRB continues to develop and grow, and that it will continue to reflect the passions of the wide-ranging mix of people who follow NYCFC.

More than anything, I want to express my gratitude for reading: Thank you. I also want to ask you to tell me what you think about HRB in the comments below. I read everything posted on these pages, and I’m curious to learn what you think about what is working well, and what I could stand to improve. I hope you can help me make these pages even better in the year to come.


Oliver Strand