Posts Tagged ‘Stu Holden’

Counterpoint: Why Holden Should Stay?

Holden: Trying not to trip up on his big decision...

Have you seen TSG’s interview with Stu Holden earlier this year?

If not, definitely check it out.

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For those who have been Christmas shopping, rumors are swirling that the MLS is going to the most extreme lengths to retain Stu Holden with further rumors suggesting that Holden has been offered a salary “bump” or more than 10x on his current wages, resulting in about $350 annually. This information appeared in Scotland’s premier rag however.

Let’s use this space today to consider the contrarian arguments for Stu Holden to remain in Dynamo orange to initiate the commentary and dialogue. Four positive points arise.

(First, a caveat in that we’ll assume that Stu can negotiate a one-year deal, or two max, with the MLS. Big caveat.)

First, Mr. Holden pockets a new paycheck.

Everyone reading this column is now wondering how I did on the math SATs.

While Holden can earn a significant chunk of peanuts in the MLS, he can virtually buy the whole peanut farm if he ships out.

Why, then,  does an MLS paycheck matter? For further leverage in negotiations overseas.

Right now Holden is coming from a position where he made slightly more (or less in some cases) than a starting journalist who does fact checking all day. If he’s considering negotiating abroad, he can’t very well say, “Well, I like your offer, but it’s not a huge premium on what I’m making now….” because it is. Pocketing an MLS paycheck at the rate rumored only enhances Holden’s leverage in a contract situation and gives him an out (next year) if he doesn’t like how negotiations are going with a prospective club.

World Cup 2010 Pitch Time

Holden is on record as saying inclusion and participation in the USMNT squad weighs heavily on both him and on this specific decision.

One of the larger factors facing the Iceman immediately overseas, is playing time. Will he walk right into a line-up or will he be relegated to the bench? Is there a predisposition to play locals?

Looking at Glasgow Rangers–one club he’s linked with–they’ve got Steve Davis, a former Villa young player of the year, on the right flank and a bevy of other players in the middle including the returning Maurice Edu. Rangers are also top of the table–would they risk upset their starting team balance?
Does Stu step in as an immediate starter there? Likely not. Maybe he gets there quickly, but at the very least it’s still an unknown.

If Stu stays MLS, he’s assured of both playing time and his captaincy. Further Holden in States leaves him available for critical friendlies whereas making his mark overseas he might not have that luxury of coming back for one (like in February against World Cup caliber Mexico) or there could be some tension around making that trip from his new club.


√ World Cup 2010 Exposure

This is probably the biggest positive.

Assuming Stu solves 2a above, exposure in South Africa (and a positive performance) is sure to have other clubs stand up and take interest in securing his services. Right now, there is handful of clubs that are looking at Holden as the solution to their problem. However, hocking his wares on the world stage come next June? Well, pretty much everyone is going to be watching.

Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley certainly drew more collective interest after their Cup performances, in 2006 and 2002 respectively, with a good performance Holden is sure to as well.

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USMNT Aarhus: A Few Changes

Edgar Castillo

Show us what you got, Edgar.

MONDAY UPDATE: A Sunday night update to the US Soccer press release on the roster said that Jose Francisco Torres has been excused for personal reasons after being initially called into camp. According to Neil Buethe at US Soccer (US Men’s Spokesman and a very nice guy as well) this morning, there is no further information available through US Soccer at this time and no player will assume JFT’s spot.

Questions by TSG surrounding further inclusion of Torres and why Jeremiah White wasn’t selected, though Benny Feilhaber was, in his home stadium were met with a “No Comment – Coach’s Decision” as well.

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USMNT Bratislava took off this morning for Aarhaus, Denmark….well most of the squad did.

Dropped from the roster called up for yesterday’s 1-0 loss to Slovakia were Chad Marshall, Steve Cherundolo and Clint Dempsey. Folks may be surprised that Dempsey was sent packing back to England. Since there are a number of plausible reasons we are not inclined to climb into Bob-O’s head before we have our first cup of coffee this morning, but we’ll revisit the issue later this week. Also of note, Soccer Insider reports that Chad Marshall’s knee is still not right.

With the MLS playoffs behind them, USMNT regulars Ricardo Clark and Stu Holden were added to the group.

Now that the Mexican standings are set, TSG fave Jose Francisco Torres is on a plane over to Denmark to continue his Saprissa redemption tour. Torres is joined by left back (we say left middie) Edgar Castillo. Castillo is set to answer the hype in his first call-up to the US mother ship. Let’s see those chops–and passport–young lad.

In other Sunday news:

  • Congrats go to the Salt Lakers whose playoff run continued by extinguishing the Fire on kicks. RSL generally clamped down on the Fire offense and was able to maintain possession in the midfield–the key to the game for them.
  • Uruguay made World Cup qualifying a bit tougher on the Costa Rica besting the Ticos 1-0 on the throw rug at Saprissa. This WC bid will be settled on Wednesday in Montevideo.
  • Here, let me write this next one like ESPN would to get you to “click” the story: “Is another America defender headed to the Premiership! To Man City no less!”…..Sorry to do that on a Sunday, reports have former Thomas Rongen whipping boy Neven Subotic, who now plays for Serbia after coming through the US “U-” series, possible going to Man City in the January window. We’re fine with Spector, but the depth would have been nice.
  • The friendly series was not kind to Arsenal yesterday, Arsenal superstriker and Netherlands national teamer Robin Van Persie limped off in Italy 15 minutes in to the 0-0 draw and is now expected out for 3 months. That leaves Arsenal without size up front as Denmark nattie Nicklas Bendtner is slated for groin surgery and at least a month on the shelf dating back to his Halloween injury versus Tottenham.

Congrats to the Galaxy’s D & Home of the Hobbit!

In a fitting combination that put the Galaxy through to the championship, Omar Gonzalez knocked a cross into traffic that fell to Gregg Berhalter for a righty touch and score. The tally was the difference in the 2-0 Galaxy win over the Dynamo to knock the away team out of the playoffs.

gonzalez

Persistence personified.

TSG’s late night comments:

♦ Just horribly embarrassing moments for the MLS as the lights went out twice at Home Depot Center. You would have thought it was a Park & Rec league game and someone had to wake up the groundskeeper. We’ll allow the MLS this one reprieve and hope they have a prevention strategy going into 2010.

♦ This game belonged to the Galaxy defense who were airtight against a relatively weak Dynamo attack. Rook AJ Delagarza (a phenomenal performance by the youngster) and last year’s rook of the year Sean Franklin on the wings continually shut down the feeble runs of the Dynamo on the outside while sprinting up to join the attack. Gregg Berhalter recovered from a tough Chivas series and Omar Gonzalez dismissed his weak playoff record-to-date and returned to the form that made him this year’s rookie of the year.

The strength, quality and consistency of the defense kept the Galaxy in the game until their one-dimensional attack prospered.

♦ While the announcers commended Berhalter on the score, big guy Omar Gonzalez’s effort to get to the cross, keep it alive and redirect the nugget was “the” play of the game in TSG’s eyes. OG, unfortunate initials for a defender, would not be denied. When coaches talk about wanting it more, they just need to pop in the DVD of Gonzales’ disregard for his health as he went above, around and through players to get to David Beckham’s service.

Heart.

No doubt, this was a tremendous effort by the Maryland grad.

♦ While the Dynamo attack was inadequate to say the least, I was surprised by the Galaxy’s lack of creativity in getting the ball to Landon Donovan. The offense for Arena’s squad seemed to continually defer to Beckham and forgot that LD was on the pitch. Odd. If the Galaxy fail to score the free kick and the Dynamo somehow squeak in a shot and eek out a victory in this one, you can be sure that TSG would have been all over the Galaxy’s lack of creativity.

♦ Conversely, it’s the Galaxy’s ability to build tempo that creates the flow of their offense and usually crescendos with a score that didn’t make it happen either. While ESPN announcer Alexei Lalas thought that the play stoppages benefited Los Angeles, I think any sane person would have clearly recognized this disrupted the Galaxy’s rhythm and ability to build the offense; just what benefits the defensive strategy of the Dynamo.

♦ Houston lacked everything on offense. Brian Ching couldn’t unshackle himself from LA’s backline and Dominc Oduro, who TSG thought in our preview might expose the elder Berhalter, was lost…and that’s a compliment. While the service to Oduro was itself lost, Oduro seemed to have slept through the lead-up to this one and have no idea how to attack the defense. A horrid performance.

That being said, through a share of crosses and scrums in the middle, Houston had a full 14 shots versus LA’s 7.

♦ We’ll say it right now, Stu Holden is a winger. While Holden presented himself more on offense tonight than in the Seattle series, the Dynamo’s young captain has trouble navigating the middle of the pitch. While Holden maintained possession, he lacked the ability to attack and threaten through the middle. After viewing Stu here and in the Seattle series, TSG thinks he’s better when there is the threat of space in front of him.

The Iceman navigated to pockets in the opening minutes to create some chances, but once LA adjusted, Holden’s offensive touch failed him and he acted merely as a hub, receiving and redirecting the ball from one side of the pitch to the other; not a bad skill, but not attacking football either. Anytime Stu operated the wing, not only was he more confident on the ball, but he seemed to have a plan of attack. Might we credit Bob Bradley again here?

♦ Ricardo Clark’s belligerence cost the Dynamo tonight. Clark who steadily fed and fed more guff to the refs was booked for an open field tackle in his half (free kick and score #1) and nonchalant trip in the box (penalty kick and score #2). Not a sterling performance for the USMNT hopeful.

♦ David Beckham was solid, but not spectacular today…but it was enough.

♦ With the loss, the Dynamo’s Stu Holden, Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis are all available for Denmark recall tomorrow. TSG thinks we may see Holden round the globe, but that’s about it. Brad Davis deserves at least a trip to Camp Cupcake in January, don’t you think?

In other news, the Kiwis are through! Congratulations to the All Whites who qualified for their first World Cup finals in 28 years. Having watched the first match earlier this year against Bahrain, this one was a near mirror image with numerous mistakes and abundant USMNTitis. New Zealand was stouter on defense and that was the difference as a technical symphony this game was not.

By the way, nothing more comical than the raucous celebration by Bahrain when they earned a 2nd half penalty kick juxtaposed against the horrible excuse for a penalty take that grounded almost directly at the All Whites’ keeper thereafter.

In other news, no beer in New Zealand is allowed to exceed more than 4% alcohol, so hopefully the Zealanders started knocking them back after Rory Fallon’s goal winner header at 44 minutes in the first half.

Weekend: Friendlyville, Playoffs, & Beckermania

soccer_ball-2490

Mark's Soccer Globe #8

So much soccer this weekend, that…yup…just checked my Swatch, we passed noon on hump day. We’re going with our weekend preview a day early to get everyone amped up and get the good comments flowing.

Our global piece is dominated by American soccer this weekend and by that wonderful “soccer globe” to our left.

Look at it sparkle. We’re going global….

….but we start in the Land of the Free and Home of the Whopper: For you USMNT hounds who missed it, here’s the TSG Slovakia preview. I hope you, Dax, and Frankie all enjoy watching the game.

Let’s stay stateside or rather States-wise with (the) MLS:

» Friday night brings us Houston vs. Los Angeles from the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.

Wait, maybe I should just send you to ESPN’s piece right now that states that the key for Houston is to shut down David Beckham and Landon

ld_db

ESPN: Psst...Houston...to win you are going to need to stop Beckham and Donovan. TSG: No sh*t

Donovan. Let me guess ESPN, 11 guys a side to start the match also? Thank you, recess is over ESPN, please proceed to 4th period reporting where today we’ll learn how not to just state the obvious.

Are you kidding me? TSG has nary a few weeks of MLS under our belt….we can do better than that. My fingers are actually crossed right now. Go:

  • How about the Brian Ching going up for head dingers against rookie Omar Gonzales, who has pretty much played down to his age during these playoffs. Ching has the experience and the nastiness, Gonzales the strength and the youth.
  • Is Ricardo Clark fully fit in the midfield and able to injure David Beckham? For the little MLS, I’ve watched, I always see extremely “borderline” tackles by the Houston USMNTer on the English pretty boy. Don’t get me wrong, Beckham is some times too Roy Keane on his tackles, but my observations usually point to Beckham being the worse for wear after the affair.
  • Does Stu Holden involve himself in the game? First, let’s commend Holden, who TSG is a fan of, in that he plays to one set of his strengths for the USMNT (flying down the wing, big crosses, tracking back on defense) yet his club demands different qualities (linking play in the middle of the field, finding space). Quite dynamic for the Dynamo captain. We offered some criticism of the Iceman in the Seattle series for not more aggressively finding the ball.
Galaxy: You have the Iceman's attention

Galaxy: You have the Iceman's attention

Best way to neutralize Donovan and Beckham, Stu and company? Maintain possession. That’s right, Iceman, be dangerous…with the ball.

  • While many are worried about Becks and Donovan, what about Edson Buddle? The Galaxy striker while not extremely proficient around the net recently makes the defense work hard. You’ve got a big pitch, you’ve got a re-jiggered Dynamo defense with the suspension of Mike Chabala and now you’ve got the aggressive runs of Buddle coming at you. Watch Buddle vs. Houston Back 4–that’s a good match-up.
  • Turning tables, the Galaxy better watch out for Houston’s Buddle, Mr. Dominic Oduro. TSG has only seen Oduro twice, but, if I were a betting man, I might take the Oduro-Berhalter match-up over the Buddle match-up just mentioned. For all his experience, Berhalter was exposed against a Chivas attack that really wasn’t very technical adept in the strike zone. Oduro, playing off Ching and with Stu and Brad Davis (does he ever have a shot at a nattie team call-up?) trailing after Becks and Donovan are racing to catch up after a counter.That might present some problems.

» Saturday evening’s affair brings us the Cinderella Salt Lakers vs. the Chicago Blancos. TSG has less observations of these teams, so we’ll keep our comments brief.

  • Fresh off the US friendly in the morning, you can imagine all glassy-eyed USMNT fans will try to focus their peepers on the strikers: Chris Rolfe
findley

Has Findley captured a little Charlie-In-A-Bottle?

and striker-du-jour Robbie Findley. While Rolfe has had his shot, Findley only got a sniff. Both will likely be in contention for the right to be the last guy picked for the RSA playground. Findley’s been playing to fine form and, with the MLS going into hibernation, one more big impression, in the hometown of US Soccer no less, couldn’t hurt.

  • Having watched a few RSL games, I really like the play of Kyle Beckerman lately. The veteran in the middle has–in the games I’ve seen–been pretty much anywhere he’s needed. He has a unique ability to read where the RSL defense is going to break down and make himself available in support or to take on the offender. I’m going to call it Beckermania….props to you rasta man.
tummi

I dare say Blanco is just as agile as this fellow and definitely more visionary

  • Here is a question I’d like to ask Chad Marshall, Jay Heaps, Omar Gonzales, Bobby Boswell or pretty much anyone on an MLS backline. Why, really why, is it so freaking difficult to get the ball away from a 36-year-old with a history of injuries who looks like Tummi Gummi? Actually, nothing but respect from TSG for Cuauhtemoc Blanco as he signs off from the MLS. Guarantee if that man had played at, say, Inter or Valencia he would have had a lot more global fans.
  • Our brief read of a few rags on this match, many are talking about the prowess of Javier Morales being the key to Real unlocking the scoring, the player who has caught our eye the most on the offensive end for RSL is Russian Yura Movsisyan. We just checked the stats on Movsisyan and we’re astonished to find that he started 19 of the 26 games he played in this year. The biggest impact we’ve seen from the 22-year-old is when he’s come off the bench and completely changed the offensive complexion for RSL.

I would term RSL’s offensive pre-Yura insertion as “assiduous” while I would term RSL offense post-Yura insertion as “zippy.”

Does TSG not have enough observations to make that claim?

beckermania

Beckermania, coming to a pitch near you!

  • Yup, that all TSG is qualified to offer on this piece. You, the fans, that read our publication have many more observations. Have at it in the comments.

We now cross the pond to World Cup playoffs.

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You Say Benny, We Say Benny, We All Say Benny

BF: About to get Neo on El Salvador

BF: Ready to go Neo on El Salvador

The numbers are in. And they don’t lie.

We’ve now closed our poll on the right sidebar entitled: “Who should Bob Bradley sub into the midfield for the El Salvador game?”

Your choices? Individual players and combinations of players, including Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres and Stu Holden.

And the answer is emphatically Benny Feilhaber. Our TSG mancrush continues. (Stay tuned for our final salvo post next week to get Feilhaber into the starting line-up against the Cuscatlecos…..you’ll love it, TSG promises….and let’s just tease it by saying TSG did a little road trip to make it happen.)

Back to the data.

First, only 2% of you want Coach Bob and the US to keep the same line-up as Mexico. That’s a pretty resounding number.

The most selected answer that won the plurality was “Benny and Stu” with 35% of the vote.

Nearly 70% of you want Benny Feilhaber starting in some capacity, either just himself or with a combination of Stu, Jose or all three. That’s another resounding number.

Amazingly, 54% of you want the Iceman Stu Holden starting in some manner. That was probably the most surprising data that came back. TSG loves Stu (check out our interview the Dynamo star if you haven’t seen it yet), but, as my brother pointed out yesterday, he’s probably going to inhabit the second half spark plug role that Feilhaber had if BF starts. Alas, Freddy, this was yours to lose at one point!

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“Disco Stu” or “Iceman?” You Call It

Disco Stu?

Disco Stu?

Or The Iceman?

Or Iceman?

(Update 2: That’s right, Iceman is the winner here by a nearly 60/40 split for Holden’s uncanny resemblance to Val Kilmer’s Kazanski in Top Gun. Uh, the plaque for alternates is down in the ladies room folks.)

(Update: Iceman is pulling away here)

And then there were 2….

Two poll answers left that is. Will Stu Holden be christened Iceman or revert to his nickname of legacy, Disco Stu (of Simpsons lore) on TSG?

Get your vote on….and get your friends to weigh in. The vote is closer than Gore-Bush–don’t worry Florida won’t be a problem.

(Note: One of the reasons that TSG is coining nicknames is that when we’re writing a piece on a player, we need a few other monikers throughout the piece to make it read well. It’s really tough to write and read a story where it follows, “Stu this” and “Stu that” or “Holden this” or “Holden that.” We’ll have all our current nicknames up shortly.)

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