CHESTER, Pa. — Only a week after being released from the first professional team he ever played for, goalkeeper Thorne Holder was doing what he does best: laughing.
Holder, who found a home with FC New York of the USL Professional Division shortly after the Philadelphia Union waived him in late July, was laughing because he could do no wrong in an Aug. 5 game against the Harrisburg City Islanders, making save after save in a 0-0 draw, all with a smile on his face.
“I was just going after everything and I was making all these saves,” Holder told MLSsoccer.com. “It was like a guy that scores five goals in a game, by his fourth and fifth goal he just says, ‘Today must be my day.’ That day was just my day.”
Last week, Holder had an even better day as he was reacquired by the Union, less than a month after he was released. During his time away, Philly’s third-string ’keeper played five games with New York, earning a 2-2-1 record with two shutouts, including the one against Harrisburg.
“It was very settling,” Holder said of his return to Philly. “I was thinking of going to Belgium or England, but that would have been a process. I’m definitely very happy to come back. A couple of fans sent me messages on Facebook saying they were sorry to see me leave, so for them as well, it’s good to be back.”
Holder, who was released during the international transfer window so the Union would have more flexibility to make moves, didn’t know if his performance with FC New York was the reason why he was called back, nor did he ask. Surprised but excited to return, the ’keeper simply told his coaches he’d be at practice the following morning.
Last week, Union manager Peter Nowak shed some light on the unique situation, explaining that that club hoped to bring Holder back all along.
“He needed the games and we found a place for him to find games,” Nowak said. “At some point, I knew he would come back with us. It’s good to have three 'keepers for many technical standpoints. And he’s a good guy in the locker room. Everyone loves him.”
Considering he’s playing behind team captain Faryd Mondragón and rookie Zac MacMath — Philly’s goalkeeper of the future — Holder understands being "a good guy in the locker room" may just be his most important role. And he embraces that. The Trinidad and Tobago international has yet to make his MLS debut but has meshed well with teammates and always trained hard in practice — qualities the Union certainly missed during his month-long absence.
“It’s my personality,” Holder said. “I think it’s important to make everyone laugh and smile.”
He smiled as he said that.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.