Another former All Whites coach could be leaving New Zealand, with Neil Emblen set to join Anthony Hudson at the Colorado Rapids.

The Herald understands that Emblen, who has been based in this country for 12 years, is close to agreeing a deal with the MLS club.

No contract has yet been confirmed but it's possible Emblen could join Darren Bazeley as an assistant to Hudson at the Denver-based MLS club.

Former All Whites technical analyst Jase Kim has also been lured by Hudson to the United States.


While the move, if it comes to fruition, would be a step forward in the professional coaching ranks for Emblen, it would be a significant blow for the sport in this country.

Emblen has one of the best footballing CVs in New Zealand. After initially coming here with Bazeley to play for the long-defunct New Zealand Knights, the former Wolves and Crystal Palace player made an instant impact on the local coaching scene.

He guided Waitakere United to three successive national league titles, and was also in charge of the New Zealand team at the 2012 London Olympics. Emblen also became a valuable member of Ricki Herbert's coaching set-up with the All Whites, before taking the role on a caretaker basis in 2014 for two games before the appointment of Hudson.

Emblen was quick to win respect at national level but was also pivotal in transforming Western Springs.

He achieved unprecedented success with the Auckland club's senior team after joining in 2012 and set up an academy recognised as one of the country's best.

The 46-year-old has constantly emphasised youth at Springs, with All Whites striker Myer Bevan the most notable example, and his willingness to blood teenagers has resulted in several local products winning scholarships to American universities.

There is also an ironic touch to Emblen's possible move, as Hudson decided not to retain Emblen in an assistant's role after his first game in charge against Uzbekistan in October 2014. At the time of his appointment, Hudson had said that Emblen would remain in the position, but changed his mind months later, saying that delivering the news to Emblen was one of the hardest conversations he'd had in 12 years in football.

Hudson instead chose to work with Alex Armstrong — which remains a strange decision as Armstrong later quit the role, returned for another spell but then left again — while Emblen was in the wilderness. At the time, Emblen must have taken the decision quite hard, but he chose to focus on his work at Springs and continue to develop as a coach.

And Emblen was brought back into the NZF fold in the past 12 months, most recently as assistant to Bazeley at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup.