HOLDEN FOCUSING ON THE LITTLE THINGS
United States national team and Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden believes that by focusing on his attention to detail for his club, things will pay off for him at the international level.
Holden played only a total of 10 minutes in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, mainly due to a leg fracture sustained in a pre-World Cup friendly against Holland.
The Aberdeen-born winger wasn't able to make a large impact on the field, but certainly helped the USMNT bond as a group with his light hearted approach to life.
"I think it's important on trips like the World Cup that are long to have that light spirit and the jokes and the playfulness," Holden recently explained to YA. "You're spending six weeks together and you're together every day. It's obviously important that when you're on the field that you're serious to the task at hand which was training hard, but outside of that you want to show that you're having a good time.
"We would crack jokes and really have a good spirit around the place, whether it's pranks or songs that we made up. The little things like that are within the group but really helped everybody cope with the strenuous training."
Holden arrived at Bolton around the same time that head coach Owen Coyle made his much-publicized switch from Burnley.
Having a new coach to impress, Holden started off on the right foot by having a good work rate and the right mentality. Those qualities extended past the end of last season and back in to the opening of his first full season as a player.
"My goals for this year are to do what I can on the field to help the team win," Holden said. "It would be nice to score some goals and get some assists but first and foremost, when I'm on the field I just want to work hard and do the little things and the dirty things that help the team win."
"I've really enjoyed working with [Coyle]," Holden went on to say about his relationship with his boss. "He's a player's coach and he is always encouraging you and giving you confidence to express yourself. In my time working with him so far I feel like he has helped me see the game and helped my work ethic on the field.
"He encourages always staying with runners and being aware of my surroundings, but at the same time, he always encourages me to get on the ball and link up between the defense and the forwards."
Even being new to the team and having a new coach to impress, it didn't take long for Holden's true nature to shine through at the club level just as it had at the international level to help bring the players together.
"I think it's a testament to the team and the environment that the coach creates here," he revealed. "The guys were all so welcoming and for the first week I was a bit tentative and a bit shy but after that I was one of the guys. We were all bantering and I was bringing out all the jokes and that light hearted spirit and humor. I think that's helped me to feel so welcomed here and helped me to settle so quickly."
Being an ambassador for the American game, the Houston, Texas native was thrilled to see his childhood team Manchester United come to his hometown in late July to take on Major League Soccer's All-Star Team at Reliant Stadium to a packed house of 70,000 fans.
"I think that everyone has always known that Houston has always been a strong market for soccer and to see them be awarded the All-Star game made me really happy for them," Holden said of the Texas city. "I was obviously a little disappointed that it wasn't the year before when I would have been playing in the game, but to see such a great reaction and the way the fans took to the game is really helping to grow soccer in Houston and in the US.
"If the US are awarded the World Cup bid then Houston would be one of those sites because the fans would come out in big numbers to watch those games," Holden said about the potential 2022 US World Cup bid.
Holden is also known for his off the field appearances and is never shy of a camera.
Having featured numerous times on different Studio 90 sessions on the US Soccer website, Holden could see his future after he hangs up his boots.
"I think that after I'm done with soccer, playing wise, then I'd love to get involved with some media," concluded Holden. "Especially T.V. The guys always joke about me never being shy of a camera but I think that's part of my personality. If the right job opportunity comes up then I'd love to get involved with TV and media post playing."
Holden and Bolton return to action on Sunday when they host Manchester United.