Bolton Likely To Sign Holden

The Sun has a truly awesome headline: Bolton Could Be Holden On To Stu.

BOLTON boss Owen Coyle is considering whether to offer Stuart Holden a contract at the Reebok Stadium. Coyle said: “Stuart has come in and trained well with us. It is something we will look at in the next few days… “We have a good group of players but we are looking to improve the squad we have. That’s an ongoing process. “He’s obviously got talent, good technique and quick feet. We just have to make that judgment about whether he is better than what we have already got.”

It looks pretty clear that Holden will end up at Bolton as new manager Owen Coyle seems particularly keen after still bringing Holden in after his move from Burnley. However, one thing I do not get is why Holden is on trial. What agent told Holden that was a good idea?

I mean let’s say Owen Coyle passes on Holden after seeing him up close and personal. That would put a major dent into the interest from other suitors and perhaps his overall value. A number of clubs will be telling themselves, if Coyle didn’t want to sign him on a free transfer than he must not be good enough for this league.

Why put him on trial? Most players that are in demand would never do that. The only explanation I can think of is that Holden really really wants to play for Coyle, which is a smart move. But if he doesn’t land at Bolton, he could have some trouble finding another suitor.


Freddy Adu Still Brings The Hype

Freddy Adu was greeted with great fanfare as he came off the airport in Greece. They even have a song for him already!

But lest you get too excited, he received the same type of greeting from Benfica fans when he arrived in Lisbon in 2007 (scroll to about the 1:35 mark).
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Still Waiting On Some Crucial Transfer News

As the first week of January comes to a close, we are still awaiting news on two of the more important US transfer targets: Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark.
While Donovan has gotten most of the attention, the moves of Holden and Clark are more critical for the US national team. Both of these guys look likely to be apart of the US World Cup squad and it is hugely important for the US that these two land well and get playing time.

It seems pretty clear that both will head to Europe. Both are out of contract with MLS and can therefore sign a free transfer, meaning that European interest ought to be high. Moreover, work permits won’t be a problem – definitely not for Holden (he has a UK passport) and Clark has been a national team regular.

Stuart Holden: He was linked to Blackburn in December, but now it looks like it was another Premier League side Burnley. Holden is apparently going to Burnley for a trial. Yet it is a question if this move is still possible, given Burnley manager Owen Coyle’s departure for Bolton. With Burnley in flux, I think this would be a very risky move for Holden – unless he is interested in playing in the Championship next year. Burnley is currently just two points clear of the drop zone and with the loss of their manager and their frugal ways one has to think they are likely to go down. However, the one major advantage of moving to Burnley is that Holden would be pretty assured to get a lot of playing time between now and the World Cup.
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Despite Claims, Little Pressure on Donovan at Everton

Considerable ink has been spilled claiming that there is tons of pressure on Landon Donovan to show that he can cut it at Everton during his short loan. This move is seen as critical to his career. Having “failed” in his previous stints in Germany, it is argued, this is Donovan’s last chance to show that he is a world class player.

In reality – Donovan has almost nothing to prove in England.

Financially, Donovan has very little riding on it. Prior to the loan, Donovan signed a new lucrative deal with the Galaxy that doubles his salary and ensures that no matter what happens over the next six months, Donovan’s furture is secure. Now, an outstanding performance could see him make considerably more if bought by a big club, but it is also quite possible no team will meet MLS’ valuation of Donovan no matter how well he performs due to his age.

So what this is really about is his legacy. Sure a dominating performance in England will enhance his stature. Such a showing would no doubt boost his global rep and will serve to mollify many of his American critics who never forgave him for giving into his homesickness at Bayern Leverkusen and returning to California and to MLS earlier this decade. But in reality Donovan’s status America’s most valuable player and perhaps its greatest player in history will not be effected by the outcome at Everton.
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Reading the tea leaves in USMNT camp- No Holden, No Clark? No Ching? [UPDATED]

Not Going to South Africa?

Bob Bradley released the 30-man roster for the annual USMNT camp in January. This camp is made up exclusively of MLS and Scandinavian based players that are both in off-season. There are some surprising and welcome additions that have been pointed out here and here. But I think the roster is more interesting for who isn’t on it than for who is. Three MLS based players and USMNT regulars have not been called up: Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, and Brian Ching.

Does the absence of Holden and Clark confirm their departures to Europe? It doesn’t definitively, since they could be called in if a move to Europe fell through, but its another piece of evidence that both players are gone. This isn’t really a shocking omission, since we know both these players will probably go to Europe in January. But it does throw some cold water on the likely phony uncertainty of what Stuart Holden will do.

Has Ching been dropped?
Ching’s exclusion is perhaps the bigger piece of news, since he is an MLS based player and doesn’t seem to be suffering from any injuries. I think this makes it increasingly clear that he is not making the trip to South Africa.
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Interpreting MLS’s Offer to Stuart Holden – It’s PR

MLS offered Stuart Holden a considerable salary increase to lure him to resign with the league. Holden who was making just $35,000 this past season was offered an approximately 10 fold increase, ie $350,000 to resign with the league. What to think of this?

While this sounds like a good offer, this is really a public relations jester from MLS. Stuart Holden could have resigned at the beginning of the year but refused and played for a measly 35 grand so that he would be free to sign with a European club in the offseason. Holden has garnered a lot of interest from practically every club in Scotland, including Rangers. But since Holden could be signed on a free transfer it is likely he could be signed by a team from one of the bigger leagues. While $350,000 is a good salary for MLS, this is small beer compared to what he could get paid in Europe. If MLS were to offer to make him a designated player and pay him around the 1 million mark it could have a bit more appeal, but even with that Holden could still likely make more in Europe. So by offering Holden a new offer and having Holden turn it down this will enable MLS to save some face for losing such an up incoming star. This is similar to when the Washington Nationals sought to resign Alfonso Soriano – a move that bought some goodwill.
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Hull signs Jan Vennegoor Hesserlink – Jozy impact

Hull has officially announced the signing of Jan “greatest name ever” Vennegoor of Hesselink (formerly of Celtic). He was a free agent so he could sign outside the transfer window. Hull currently have 5 strikers. Jozy, Caleb Folan, Craig Fagan, and Daniel Cousin. While this signing will create more competition, Jozy still looks set to figure prominently. Cousin is on the outs after comments attacking Phil Brown, Craig Fagan has some experience but is not that much of a threat, and Folan is a big target man which is not really Jozy’s best role.

We know Jozy is the most talented of the five, but he has to show that he is also the best striker right now. Brown will likely use Jozy off the bench in EPL games in the near future, until he clearly proves he has adjusted to the EPL and is fully fit to go 90. Hopefully Jozy will establish himself as the first choice striker and Brown will decide to pair him with Hesselink or Gillas. Overall, I think this signing improves Hull overall and gives Brown the option to play an aggressive 4-4-2, with Jozy and Hesserlink, Hunt on the left, Gillas on the right, and perhaps Giovanni and Boateng in the middle. Not that bad of a side and one that could indeed avoid relegation.