Hudson signed with Newcastle United in 1973 at the age of 17. He made over 40 appearances for the club and fans there nicknamed him “Rocky.” After four years in the Football League First Division, Hudson moved to the United States, playing for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League from 1977 to 1983 and was named an All-Star five times. Hudson also played for the Strikers following their move to Minnesota in 1984, which proved to be the NASL’s final year. During his stint there, Hudson scored 44 goals in 197 matches with 99 assists.
Hudson moved on to a brief stint with indoor football in the Major Indoor Soccer League and a regional outdoor league, the American Professional Soccer League, playing for the Strikers (1988-1991). After starting out as the Miami Fusion’s community outreach director and TV commentator, Hudson was named its head coach in the middle of the 2000 season, finishing the season with an 11-12-1 record. He led the club to the best regular season record in Major League Soccer in 2001 with 16 wins, 5 losses and 5 draws. However in post-season play, the club was defeated by the San Jose Earthquakes in the semifinal round of the playoffs.
Hudson quickly became known for his fiery personality. One memorable incident occurred after a Miami home win against the Tampa Bay Mutiny. The Fusion scored five goals, an offensive outburst for soccer, but Hudson was apparently unsatisfied. He stormed into the media tent and up to the podium. He said, “I’ve got nothing to say. Any questions? ANY QUESTIONS? No? OK!” and stormed right back out. Interviews with players after the game indicated that Hudson was angered by a perceived lack of effort, even with the Fusion’s dominant win.
Following MLS’s contraction of the Fusion, Hudson was hired to replace Thomas Rongen as head coach of D.C. United on January 8, 2002. He continued to regale fans and journalists with his wit, stories, and quotes. He once famously said, “There’s a lot of talent on this team, and I’m talking Anna Nicole Smith type of talent!” upon taking control of the team in 2002. He worked for ESPN’s World Cup coverage in 2002, and came up with a memorable quote after the American team drew 1-1 with South Korea in group play. Expounding upon whether U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel should be thanking his defenders for their works, he said, “I’ll be kissing their bums in the showers.”
Despite his personality and love for the home fans, United finished at the bottom of the table in the East in 2002 with a record of 9-14-5, and were ousted in the first round by Chicago Fire by a 4-0 aggregate score in the two-game series in 2003. “Someone get me a blindfold and a cigarette!” he said during the post-game news conference. He was replaced by Peter Nowak in 2004. Hudson’s cumulative record as an MLS head coach stands at 46-44-20.
Beginning with the 2004-2005 season, Ray Hudson began TV commentating for GolTV. He is a color commentator for European league matches and is co-host of American Soccer. During the 2006 World Cup, he was a co-host for the English-language segment of the nightly Gol TV En Alemania wrapup show.