Why You’ll Like Him
As the sport continues to evolve with an ever-increasing reliance on speed and strength, Holden is a throwback to the soccer of year’s past.
While he can also play centrally, on the international level, Holden has found himself on the right side of the midfield, where his greatest strength is his ability to whip in a delicious cross. He’ll spend most of his time on the pitch hugging the touch line and looking for the forward making a run to put the ball on his teammate’s forehead.
Holden isn’t overly fast, big or strong, but he has never been criticized for being shy about getting in on a tackle and he is one of the more active players you will see on the field in South Africa. The man born in Aberdeen, Scotland, but raised in Houston, Texas also has a feel-good aspect to his story as he finishes off his recovery from a broken leg that he suffered on March 3rd playing for the USA in a friendly versus Netherlands.
Why You’ll Hate Him
At just 24-years-old, Holden can act very much his age at times and sometimes even like someone younger with an annoying immaturity.
Holden is a youngster who looks even younger. With spiky blonde hair and a baby face devoid of facial hair, it would be fair to ask if Holden has a date for prom yet. As young as he looks and still at a young age, Holden has a tendency to act even younger.
He’s been known to get caught up yelling at the referee instead of playing and will let his frustration take him out of a game. Occasionally, Holden’s temper even makes him get in on a rash and dangerous tackle. Such immaturity can be frustrating for his fans and outrageous to opponents.
Club Teams: Bolton Wanderers (2010), Houston Dynamo (2006-2009), Sunderland (2005)
National Team Debut: Gold Cup vs. Grenada on July 4, 2009
World Cups: None
An Aberdeen-born lad, Holden has experienced the best that the Isles and States have to offer in the sport. After two years starring at Clemson University, Holden secured a contract with the English club, Sunderland. However, just as he was making headway and some were speculating that he would make his first-team appearance, Holden was attacked outside of a bar, suffering a fractured eye socket that all but ended his time in England…for the time being.
With his first professional stint an unfortunate failure, Holden returned to his hometown of Houston to play with the Dynamo in MLS. After being brought along slowly to begin, Holden was given the reigns to the Dynamo attack in 2008 and the team finished just one match away from the MLS Cup. Holden’s his stellar season for Houston earned him a move back to England in January of 2010, this time with Bolton Wanderers.
Holden’s time with Bolton has been short, but was shortened even further by a broken leg in early March. Just having integrated himself with the team and having made his first appearance with Bolton, Holden’s injury kept him out until the season’s final match when he appeared again. In just two appearances and training, Holden did enough to earn himself a new contract with Bolton and impress the supporters who had positive reviews of his play in his short time with the club.
Most of Holden’s time with the USA crest over his heart has come with the youth teams. With 11 U-20 caps, Holden got into the youth system early and parlayed his success there into a spot on the 2008 Olympic teams where he scored in the States’ opening match win.
On the verge if his first senior team cap, Holden suffered a groin injury prior to a match versus Sweden and as a result, had to wait until the 2009 Gold Cup to make his senior debut. Holden had the choice to play for the United States or Scotland, but said early on that he wanted to represent the US and not only did his play in the Gold Cup cap-tie him, but it also earned him Gold Cup All-Tournament Team honors.
The midfielder’s strong Gold Cup made the senior team take notice and he has been a fixture ever since. Holden featured in the end of the USA’s qualifying for the World Cup, even starting when the Yanks visited Honduras and won to clinch qualification for the World Cup.
What to Look For
The injury to Charlie Davies that opened a forward spot in the US starting XI has led many to believe that Clint Dempsey will move from midfield to forward, allowing Holden to start at right midfield when the Yanks take on England in Rustenburg on June 12th.
With Holden stepping into the right, he should be able to fit into head coach Bob Bradley’s system with ease. His ability to track back and get stuck in is something that Bradley appreciates and without great speed up top, the US will benefit from Holden’s ability so stretch the game horizontally. Even if he comes off of the bench, his ability to deliver the deadly ball from out wide, even when deep, will threaten tired defenses.
If you’re looking for the ever-active winger that blows by would-be defenders, Holden isn’t your guy. He’s not going to dazzle you with step overs either, but if he finds time to search out his teammates making runs, he will play some of the better balls you see this June. His industrious nature and tenacity in the tackle, so long as he keeps his temper, makes him a downright likeable character as well.
Around Set Piece Analysts, there is no one more likable than Ryan Rosenblatt. He will be contributing to SB Nation Soccer in the run-up to the World Cup
For more World Cup coverage, visit the Dirty Tackle blog from our partners at Yahoo!