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Commentary: Give ’em hell, Stu!

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Michael Simpson

He grew up before Houston’s very eyes. Now, he is set to make his debut on a stage smaller than few.

Holden is set to make his EPL debut today

Midfielder Stuart Holden, 23, will reportedly earn his first appearance with English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers in the club’s fifth-round FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur FC. The game kicks off at 2 p.m. Houston time.

After a brief stint with Sunderland FC, a club that was dominating the Coca-Cola Championship at the time, Holden made his professional debut May 27, 2006, with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. The rest is history.

A 20-year-old who couldn’t quite grow a ‘playoff beard’ when his comrades decided to go unshaven until the MLS Cup Final, Holden played in 13 games and helped the Dynamo win the 2006 league championship.

When midfielder Brad Davis was forced to miss much of 2007 with a knee injury, Holden stepped in and helped the Dynamo win another championship.

In 2008, Holden competed in the Summer Olympics in Beijing and scored a last-minute goal to beat Japan 1-0. In 2009, he became the Dynamo’s starting attacking midfielder when Canadian-born midfielder Dwayne DeRosario departed for Toronto F.C.

His success caught the attention of US Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley, and Holden earned 12 caps and two goals for the Yanks in 2008. After Holden’s accomplishments at the international level, he is considered by many to be a lock for Bradley’s 2010 World Cup roster.

In choosing what should be my first column topic for American Soccer News — and realizing the day it was to be published — I decided the piece must fittingly pay tribute to Houston’s wunderkind.

It is important, though, not to allow Holden’s on-field success to overshadow everything he did for the city of Houston. Holden spent countless hours coaching soccer clinics and visiting kids in children’s hospitals.

In 2008, he went as far as to give his 2007 MLS Cup Championship medal to a terminally-ill child and was named US Soccer’s Humanitarian of the Year.

In a world where the biggest stars are exposed for who they truly are, Holden rose to the challenge of living in the public eye and became Houston’s hero.

Good luck, Stu.

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