HOLDEN COMES HOME A WISER MAN
United States national team midfielder Stuart Holden will look to use the knowledge gained in his short spell at English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers to gain the upper hand in the US' opening game against England on June 12th.
"I think having seen those players week in and week out, and the majority of the England team play in England, it's definitely a help because I'm familiar with the players", Holden told YA after Wednesday's practice session. "If I'm matched up against Ashley Cole, I've seen him play 15 times in the last six months.
"It will be helpful to know his tendencies, and know he likes to attack and get forward and how to deal with that. Knowing your opponent can only help you going into that game."
Holden also realizes that the knowledge is reflected both ways however, with the ever growing popularity of the American athletes plying their trade in the English game.
"Being around the [English] press and the media the US players are at the forefront," added Holden. "They're always talking about Clint [Dempsey], Landon [Donovan], Tim [Howard], Marcus Hahnemann, and myself obviously.
"Any bit of news has been blown up that much more because the US players are even more in the forefront now in England because it's the World Cup. The country comes to a stand still when the World Cup's on.
"They're well aware of who we are and what our threats as well, so it's going to be a good game on June 12th."
There was a doubt if Holden was going to be healthy before the World Cup after the US squared off against the Netherlands back on March 2nd.
Holden was a casualty in the game, fracturing his right fibula due to a Nigel de Jong tackle in the friendly.
"The first week I was back in training I had a bit of a set back and wasn't feeling 100%," Holden said of his injury. "After that, I hit the breakthrough and I've hit the ground running from then and I'm really happy mentally and physically now."
As the Princeton camp continues to unfold, Holden can see the determination in his fellow players as the US coaching staff will have to begin trimming down their numbers to create the final 23 players to take to South Africa.
"Once you step on the field, it's all business," he explained. "There's a lot of experience guys, and that's one thing we stress. We have a great time and we have great camaraderie off the field but once you cross that white line...Even the first two days here have been intense and tackles have been flying in.
"In a sense everyone's competing, but we're all competing for the same goal which is to do well at the World Cup. It makes for a good training environment, there are great facilities here, and hopefully in these last two weeks we can really prepare for June 12th."
One of the benefits that Holden has eyed heading into these last two weeks before the final roster is selected is a good blend of players to create a rounded team.
Holden mentioned the strength of character in both Michael and head coach Bob Bradley, as well as the 'defensive bite' that Maurice Edu shares with his teammate.
"That's one thing with our team is that we have a different variety of players," concluded Holden. "We have guys that are attacking, and we have guys that provide that bite and defensive stability as well."