BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, March 2, 2010
With the USA currently assembled in Amsterdam ahead of this week's friendly against Holland, one of the most talked about American players on the team is new Bolton Wanderers' midfielder Stuart Holden.
Over the past year, Holden has emerged from being an uncapped MLS player to an English Premier League midfielder with a chance to see significant minutes with the USA at this summer's World Cup in South Africa. Holden said that the major transitions he had to make recently for both club and country have come naturally to him so far.
"It's part of soccer and it's also part of growing as a player," Holden told YA. "I think the more you grow as a player the more experience you get and you are rewarded for that. The hard work I have put in is something I want to keep going and I want to keep working hard, keep my head down, and hopefully if I do that then the sky will be the limit."
Holden, who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, left MLS after his fourth season with the Houston Dynamo. With the Dynamo, Holden achieved great success in winning the MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007. Following the 2009 season in which he named to the league's best XI for the season, Holden decided to make the move to England.
When making the move overseas, Holden found himself with a key ally in his head coach, Owen Coyle. At the beginning of January, Coyle was leading EPL side Burnley and offered Holden a trial with the club.
When Coyle made the move to Bolton a few weeks later, he made the decision to offer the young American a trial there. With the confidence of the head coach, Holden has been able to make a smooth transition to his new club where he instantly earned minutes on the field.
"It's been a good transition so far. It's been an easy one because I have some family there and they come to a lot of the games," Holden discussed.
"The team has been welcoming and my teammates have welcomed me right in. The coaching staff has being great. I have felt right at home and it has made things easy for me to make that transition. Obviously I will keep working hard and hopefully the chances keep coming."
Now in Amsterdam with the US team, Holden will be hoping to play a key role for the US team as they take on the world power Dutch. The game will provide a difficult test to him and his teammates in their last game before US Coach Bob Bradley names the World Cup roster.
"Holland is going to be a great test for us. They are a really good team," Holden said of Wednesday's opponent. "They did really well at the last European Championships. They are a team that is obviously going to be a very good test for us leading up to the World Cup."
"It's important for us being the last friendly before the World Cup roster is announced that everybody goes out there and really gives it a great effort and shows the coaching staff what we can do."
While previously considered a fringe player with an outside chance of making the World Cup, Holden is now widely considered to be a lock to make the team. In South Africa, Holden will hope to lead the team against a draw where they will face England, Algeria, and Slovenia.
"It's a tough group," Holden said bluntly. "There are some teams that have some very talented players. The marquee matchup is obviously with England in our first game. It's important that we set the tone for the rest of the tournament with that match. They are going to be geared up for that one.
"Every game is important in the World Cup and we are not overlooking anyone. I am looking forward to getting going in South Africa."