Saturday, December 12, 2009

Q. & A. With U.S. and Houston Midfielder Stuart Holden

From the NY Times:

What sort of things do you do, specifically, to work on the strategic aspects of your game?

I’ve always been a fan of the sport. I watch a lot of soccer. I watch Premier League, La Liga, M.L.S. games whenever they’re on. I’m always watching. Watching players that play my position. Players like Xavi and Iniesta, those guys at Barcelona. Their movement is unbelievable. I think if you look in the Confederations Cup, Spain probably did the least running of any team in the tournament. Their movement on and off the ball is so good.

I try to watch my own games when I can. I will sit around on a Sunday after a game and watch the tape. Look at things I’ve done well and look at things I haven’t done so well. You can always learn from your own game as well as watching the players who are the best in the world.

How important was it for you to watch the game and develop the strategic knowledge to play at a high level? When did that kick in for you?

I think growing up, it forced me to think the game a little bit more because I was never the biggest, I was never the tallest, I was never the fastest. I was always a player that was technically gifted, but if forced me playing against those guys and to show well, that I had to really think the game and outsmart your opponent. Put yourself in a position that you can show well and impact the game without being the biggest and the fastest.

Obviously, as I’ve matured physically, I had that aspect to my game. Probably my second year of college, things started to click a little bit more for me and that is when I ended up leaving and going to Sunderland and being in that environment. Then, coming back to Houston under Dominic Kinnear and John Spencer I really feel like in the last four years, my game is at a whole new level than when I first came to M.L.S.