Posts Tagged ‘Stu Holden’

Stu Holden: The Shin Guardian Interview

(Note: Full video after the page break)

A few weeks ago TSG was lucky enough to land an interview with Gold Cup performer extraordinaire Stu Holden.

We were specifically enamored by Stu’s play this summer after watching him sporadically with the Dynamo. As huge fans (as those of you that read this publication know) of Benny Feilhaber, the ability to maintain possession is a talent and skill heavily favored at TSG.

USMNT mainstay? For sure

"Stu, you've got the swagger too"

However, when we started digging into Stu’s Interwebs history and researching more about him, we found a lot more things that impressed us about Stu.

First and foremost, for those outside the Houston area, Stu won 2008 USSF Dynamo Humanitarian of the Year Award for his work with Athletes of Hope and Holden’s Heroes. What makes this award even more impressive is that Holden won it in his first year on the team–rookies typically have trouble just coming into a league. This is just another example of why we think #22 will be a fine ambassador for the US for years to come.  Find out in the interview a little bit more about what motivates Stu’s work on such endeavors.

We also dug up quite a bit of content that seemed to suggest Stu is a Man United fan. One post even suggested the Stu “idolized” David Beckham growing up (sorry Stu, by your reaction that might mean someone was stretching it).

Guess who Stu would train with from Manchester history? For those of you that watched the last five minutes of the Haiti game, you might get this one right.

Finally, we tried to peg down Stu to a nickname, either The Kilted One (kind of boring), McGroin (debatable legs to this one as well), Hollywood (possibly) or Metro (apparently that’s a USMNT favorite).  However, while Stu answered our Twitter question — this one got left out. (Clark, we don’t blame you for leaving that question out.)

Some other questions we should have snuck in for the Dynamo standout?

* What do you think your chances of making the World Cup roster are? (We say they are about 99%-100%)

* What is feel like to represent your country, especially when traveling abroad?


continue reading and view the video interview

Paging Bob Bradley: Let’s get Stu Holden and Benny Feilhaber a little more run

Strike Force 1

Strike Force 1

Recently, TSG had the opportunity to email some questions to Stu Holden. One question we asked him is, “How did you develop such a good first touch on the ball and ability in possession?”

While we await that answer and others from The Kilted One, let’s delve into just why Bob Bradley needs to find more room in the rotation for players with the skills of Stu Holden and TSG favorite Benny Feilhaber.

Feilhaber and Holden possess a rather unique ability among U.S. players to…well…possess…the ball that is. They not only understand the value of possession, from how subtle positioning of the ball on their foot–whether it’s instep or the inner arch to continuous motion with the ball in their possession can virtually unlock offensive opportunities and change the entire complexion of the field: new passing lanes are opened, new runs opened up, etc.

Strike Force 2

Strike Force 2

The second component of possession, putting the ball in motion, is perhaps the single most misunderstood and neglected skill set in soccer. By putting the ball in continuous motion, the defense has no choice but to react, they know not where the next movement will come from–a defender is thinking “defend” not “takeaway.”

And continually that defender is now at risk and has lost whatever upperhand they may have had.

Take a look here (9 minute mark of the clip) at the second goal from the Americans against Spain in this year’s Confederation Cup semifinal. A long square ball is played to Benny Feilhaber with the opportunity for Benny to drive to the goal.

Because Benny is comfortable with his possession and keeps the ball in continuous motion, he’s able to effectively stall and slot a pass to Landon Donovan who is trailing off his right foot. Feilhaber, before the pass, is clearly in a threatening position, but the defense is sitting there, reacting, because of Benny’s subtle continuous motion with the ball. As we now know, Donovan laces a shot unimpeded that Clint Dempsey then pokes in for the 2-0 lead. All of this, compliments of Benny Feilhaber’s solid work in possession.

Stu Holden as well possesses this gift of skill as we saw in the Gold Cup.

The U.S. in the top tier and mid tier tournaments this year continually suffered from a lack of possession maintenance. It’s up to Bob Bradley to find room in his midfield rotation to balance out the defensive middies (Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, etc) with the threat of the offensive creation of Benny Feilhaber and hopefully with a little more maturity Stu Holden as well.

As Predicted, Misses The Mark

While Ives Garcalep ( filed a fair game report on the U.S. meltdown against Mexico, the same cannot be said for ESPN soccer editor Jen Chang.

While I generally feel that Chang’s commentary is right on (calling out BB’s strategy of two defensive midfielders, arguing for overseas players over MLS players), his commentary on yesterday’s game was just plain off.

Chang calls out the Americans for letting Mexico recover it’s swagger by not fielding a strong Gold Cup team. He further excoriates the U.S. depth and suggests that beyond Stu Holden and Troy Perkins, yesterday’s performances by Kyle Beckerman and Chad Marshall among others undid all the work they put in earlier in the tournament.

My first issue is that I did not hear from Chang the entire tournament. Maybe he was recovering–like nearly THE ENTIRE US FIRST TEAM–after a long arduous tournament against top competition in a different time zone. Really Jen, you wanted the U.S. to trot out it’s first team in a weak Gold Cup field where no team brought all their top talent after playing 5 games in 3 weeks just days before? Further, after many had been away from their club teams and the top level play we want them to get before 2010.

Also where was your analysis early on? The U.S. struggled against Haiti and even Panama at times. That they would struggle yesterday was more likely than the phenomenal 1st half display the team put on.

To suggest that players like Marshall and Beckerman did themselves a disservice is another egregious mistake without mentioning that a) their play was strong in the first half and b) Javier Aguirre was so concerned with his team’s first half play against a second rate U.S. squad that he brought in Carlos Vela to pair Giovani Dos Santos to start the half. That’s two, count’em, two EPL strikers to take on the U.S. jv team.

Further, it is play against quality competition that coach Bob Bradley can use to measure his arsenal of players. He just saw his “A” team against Spain and Brazil less than a month earlier. What did the “A” team have to prove in the Gold Cup? What player insights would be gained against mostly inferior competition for players that taken on 3 of the top 10 teams in the world?

A better angle if you wanted to call out the USMNT team would be to discuss the eerie parallel between Brazil piling on the U.S. in the 2nd half of the Confederation’s Cup final game with yesterday’s second half implosion. As this blog can well atest, I have been critical of Bob Bradley’s halftime adjustments and considerations in such situations and again yesterday we saw the U.S. come out not ready to handle an invigorated Mexican attack. While the manner of attack was flashy and the score finally obnoxious, the U.S. had a similar behavior against Haiti, giving up two goals in the course of ten minutes after half time in a decidedly different manner.

At least this time Bradley tried to change up the team (admittedly too late) with early insertions of Kenny Cooper and Santino Quaranta.

The story of yesterday is not the Yanks letting Mexico regain their confidence (if Mexico has to rally around beating the U.S. “B” team just a year before the World Cup that’s a bigger problem) or how certain players canceled out their entire tournament. It’s about measuring the Gold Cup team in aggregate (by achievement and by the next step of growth necessary) and a disturbing trend of coming out tactically unprepared in the 2nd half.

Yesterday’s post-game opinion saying ESPN would miss the mark

Very surprising and poignant comments from Stu Holden

Maybe this is now old, but I just read Stu Holden’s commentary on the Haiti game this past Saturday. There has been some talk that Holden could be a great spokesman for U.S. soccer. His writing only seeks to affirm that.

This article, it’s sincerity and honesty, was something you might expect from a gracious ambassador for U.S. soccer, specifically his feelings immediately upon scoring the equalizer.


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