HOUSTON — A week ahead of a match against his former club in the Dynamo Charities Cup, Bolton Wanderers’ injured midfielder Stuart Holden is dealing with some bittersweet emotions.
On one hand, the midfielder is excited to be bringing his new teammates to his hometown, a place he admittedly talks about quite a bit. That is the sweet part. The bitter part is that Holden will only be an observer when his old team, the Dynamo, face his current club on July 20.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed I’m not playing,” Holden told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday. “But I’m happy to show the guys my hometown. I’ve told them a lot about the fans and stadium and my old teammates. I think it’s going to be a fun night.”
Bolton released their roster for their American tour on Tuesday. The roster is made up of the club’s first team group, highlighted by internationals Kevin Davies (England), Gary Cahill (England), Jussi Jääskeläinen (Finland), Lee Chung-Yong (South Korea) and a group of promising young players that includes Matthew Taylor, Marcos Alonso and Tope Obadeyi.
Bolton will complete their US preseason tour in Houston after matches against NASL club FC Tampa Bay on Thursday and USL Pro side Orlando City on Sunday. With the Dynamo the only MLS club on the slate, the trip’s finale will be the stiffest test for a Bolton side that has a firm eye on getting off to a fast start in English Premier League play.
“[The trip] is a bit of a fitness exercise and we’re preparing to hit full stride August 13 when the season starts,” Holden said. “It’s important to get match-fit. We’ll be in Tampa and Orlando and we finish in Houston where we’ll have the biggest test of all.”
Holden told MLSsoccer.com that he has watched every Dynamo match this year. The former MLS all-star admitted that while his former team has experienced some ups and downs, he is confident that they will not only provide Wanderers with a tough test but will make noise down the stretch in MLS.
“They’re a young team that’s learning, but they’ve got some leaders coming back,” Holden said. “A guy like [Brian] Ching is a good one to have working with the young guys and showing what it takes to be a winner.”
The match is a chance for Holden’s new teammates to get a look at his old 'mates and stomping grounds. While Holden will not be participating, he is looking forward to a night watching his new team take a go at his old side.
“[Houston] are the guys I’ve spent four years with and they’re some of my best friends,” Holden said. “I just wish I could go out there and rough them up a bit. I’m pushing my teammates to make sure they kick Bobby Boswell’s, Mike Chabala’s and company’s butt next Wednesday night.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.