The Houston Dynamo announced on Monday that the opponent for the 2011 Dynamo Charities Cup will be English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers — the current club of former Dynamo fan favorite Stuart Holden.
The U.S. international midfielder, who is recovering from a serious knee injury and may not be fit in time for the Charities Cup match on July 20, was in Houston for the announcement and sat down with MLSsoccer.com to talk about Bolton, the Dynamo, and his "tweeps."
MLSsoccer.com: How nice is it to see the Houston fans pulling for you to come back for the match despite your injury?
Holden: It’s kind of humbling. When Chris [Canetti] told me they had the meeting with the fan board and said that all the fans unanimously wanted Bolton to come play in Houston whether I would be playing or not, and [the fact that] that they’ve been following the team is special.
It was tough to leave Houston, but I felt it was the right time in my career to make the jump to the Premier League. For Dynamo fans to become [Bolton] fans is pretty humbling.
[inline_node:334251]MLSsoccer.com: You’re a big twitter guy. Do you think you have more Houston fans following you or Bolton fans?
Holden: It’s hard to tell. The ones that tweet me more now are Bolton fans, which is mostly when I comment on games. It would be nice to see a breakdown of my followers. I have a good following on there, and I enjoy getting to connect with the fans a little bit. To read many of the messages when I was injured or when I’m playing well is something I enjoy and something I plan on doing throughout my career.
MLSsoccer.com: With you going from the Dynamo to Bolton, do you think that builds more bridges between MLS and the EPL?
Holden: Yeah, but it’s certainly not just me. You’ve got guys like Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard who’ve gone to England and done well. It's opened avenues, and many more people in England are paying attention to MLS and the young talent coming up through American soccer. I wouldn’t say it’s because of one person, but it’s because of the development of U.S. soccer, in general. It’s producing better talent, and they’re going over there and doing well.
MLSsoccer.com: What is Owen Coyle like as a manager?
Holden: He’s been a manager that’s really encouraged me and helped me grow as a player and given me a platform to show my skills. Not only that, but he’s a great players' manager off the field. He’s one of the guys who likes to join in the jokes and things like that. But on the field he has a hunger to win and a desire to get results out of the club.
MLSsoccer.com: What can you tell the fans about the Bolton team that’s coming in July?
Holden: Bolton, like the Dynamo, is very family-oriented. It’s a tight-knit group where everyone enjoys being around each other. It’s a team that works hard and has done really well in the league this year, being in 8th place and making the semifinals of the FA Cup. We’ve got some really talented players like Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies and Gary Cahill. There are some really exciting players who play at high levels and for their national teams, so I think Houston fans will enjoy watching them play.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.