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Monday Kickoff: On Holden, Onalfo and more

Stuart Holden (

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The interest in Stuart Holden just keeps on growing and the chances of him returning to MLS in 2010 continue to shrink.

Burnley became the newest EPL team linked to a move for the U.S. national team midfielder as he heads toward the January transfer window ready to field offers as a free agent. Holden is out of contract and holds a UK passport, making him an ideal transfer target for English clubs looking to boost their chances of improving in the second half of the season.

And the Houston Dynamo? The club has made improved offers to Holden, but simply can't compete with the type of offers Holden is receiving from England. The Dynamo is holding out hope that Holden chooses to stay in MLS, but each passing day makes it appear more likely that he will be the latest American to make the move across the Atlantic.

Onalfo a good pick for D.C.

Curt Onalfo is already being labeled a re-tread by some D.C. United fans disappointed in his appointment as the team's new head coach, but the label is a bit unfair for a coach who enjoyed his share of success in his only other head coaching job.

Onalfo took over a severely underachieving Kansas City team that had missed the playoffs two straight seasons and helped the Wizards reach the Western Conference final in his first season. The club improved its record in year two before falling to eventual champions Columbus in a hard-fought first-round series. Kansas City struggled in year three under Onalfo, but the Wizards pulled the plug on Onalfo's tenure before he had a chance to salvage the season.

Onalfo is young, well-respected and takes over a D.C. team with much more attacking talent than he ever had in Kansas City. If he can succeed in building a suitable defense and help D.C. United's dangerous attack find some consistency, Onalfo should enjoy as successful a first year in D.C. as he had in Kansas City.

Lastly, those wondering when Onalfo will get his chance to face the club that fired him. D.C. United opens its season against Kansas City on March 27th.

Beasley sidelined

Maurice Edu made his successful return from knee surgery last weekend, but not all news was good news for Americans in Scotland. DaMarcus Beasley missed Rangers' 4-1 win vs. Hibernian with a thigh injury picked up in training. He was expected to miss two to three weeks, but Beasley stated on his Twitter account that the injury wasn't as bad as first thought and that he could be back training by the end of this week. He will be hoping to be back in time for Rangers' showdown vs. Celtic on Jan. 2.

Capello gives Beckham World Cup boost

Just when you thought David Beckham's hopes of making the England World Cup team were 50/50 at best, now comes word from England manager Fabio Capello thathe will include Beckham if Beckham is fit and playing regularly for AC Milan, which he is set to join on loan.

'I don't look at age, I look at qualities and Beckham has lots. He's serious, he's a great professional and the World Cup is incredibly important to him," Capello said of Beckham.


What do you think of Holden's situation? Think there's any realistic chance he comes back to MLS? Looking forward to the pre-game handshake between Peter Vermes and Curt Onalfo when KC meets D.C. in the season opener? Relieved to hear Beasley's injury isn't that serious?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Right, because Celtic fans haven’t been videoed singing racist songs and breaking up the moment of silence during Armistice Day this season.

  2. Well made points but to play devil’s advocate — is it so shocking that LD might want to help build our domestic league, especially with a big paycheck now (likely more than he could make in Europe). He’ll have his EPL loan and time with the USMNT to prove himself on the bigger stage, too. Not to mention the LA vs Liverpool lifestyle, weather, etc.

  3. “Sorry MLS. Maybe treat all teams and players as equals and you wouldn’t face this problem every single effing transfer period.”

    Yeah, cuz that’s the reason there’s more money for quality players in Europe.

    (~~~ rolls eyes ~~~)

  4. Don’t be such a child with this SBI vs SI crap. We’re lucky to have both Ives and Goff.

    Goff alerted us to Onalfo first. Ives got the signing first. Who the hell cares?

    Thanks for the quality coverage, Ives.

  5. Ives, if you’re still following at all..
    I’ve noticed you repeatedly push the money angle for these transfers..”Dynamo not able to compete” etc.

    But don’t you think the much bigger issue is the chance to really test yourself with the best?

    I remember reading a Clint Mathis interview where he reflected on Donovan saying something along the lines of..”why are you wasting your time with MLS”.

    Of course, I can see how it’s a great thing that Donovan plays a bit of an ambassador role for MLS… and that’s great. But you only live once. He’s been the ambassador for years now.

    I mean to say… that if you’re a good amateur player (no money, just for fun), it’s normal that you just want to keep playing for better and better teams. Good players want to test themselves. Of course, the money is important (it’s their careers), but it just seems that from my perspective you put too much of an emphasis on it.

    Just my two cents.

  6. I assume you will get more than your fair share of criticism here, but it is Rangers, and not Celtic that is setting the low standard for behavior in Scotland. It is ridiculous to suggest otherwise. The truth is the Bhoys are completely clean and Rangers are somewhat clean with some bed elements (especially in the supporters’ base).

  7. I honestly feel that Holden should go to Blackburn or Rangers. Both are teams that Holden has a good chance of getting steady minutes for; off the bench or from the first whistle. I don’t expect him to do it right away, but he’s got quite a work rate that can’t be ignored by any so I would predict at the least two or so weeks before he gets into the 18. I sort of prefer Holden go to Blackburn; Aside from England being a place where he can improve his technical abilities, Blackburn is a team with some distress because they seem to be in poor form. They’re not in any sort of relegation battle, but they’re definitely not where they want to be.

  8. Not to mention that Blackburn has been top six or seven in the Premiership as recently as 2008, they’ve just had a bad season or two.

    Isaac, that is funny. Though he’s certainly not a defensive midfielder in any case.

  9. haha, other comments from other sites keep saying stuff like ” well the reports call Holden a defensive midfielder and wikipedia calls him an attacking midfielder”

    The only reason I find that funny is because I’m the guy who put up on Wiki that Holden is a ” verstile attacking midfielder”.

  10. JR, the reporter also might have trouble telling the difference between lancashire clubs that are interested in dynamo players and have the letters “b-u-r-n” in there names.

  11. I don’t want to see either player go to Burnley (for one I support Rovers ’nuff said) Burnley are the poorest club in the Prem (financially) and now that the home form has been knocked down a bit I think they will be firmly in the relegation race by mid feb. Also Burnley is pretty decent in the middle and on the wings.

    Charles, as for refering to mid table PL teams as loser teams that holden would never want to play for you need to remember that those teams are 20 spots higher in the league than the clubs Demerit and Simek play for, Most MLS players would kill to go to a mid table PL team even without the money.

  12. The Holden link for Burnley is bogus. That reporter can’t tell the difference between Clark and Holden, and used language clearly discussing Clark with Holden’s name–“tough guy central midfielder” is not Holden. Because you know all Americans just look alike, and the reporter couldn’t bother to check that there are multiple Dynamo players hitting the transfer market as free agents. The Clark Burnley rumor is valid, the Holden one is not.

  13. i like what you have there, ahm. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to spector at LB and Dolo at RB, if that’s the best possible option. Especially since spector has done pretty well there when given the opportunity for West Ham– very dangerous cutting in from the left with his right foot. I’m not sold 100% on Bocanegra at LB, even though he did play there often for club.
    I think we can all agree that it’s a clusterbang back there and BB will choose something that most of us will find nonsensical and BB will end up either looking like a genius or looking like a fool. Either way, I can’t wait! ha

  14. Okay help me out here, is DC not bringing back Fred, Emilio, Gomez AND Moreno?

    I think Wallace is best at left mid but he could probably play left back on a more traditional 4 man back line?

  15. Amazing that going into the 2009 MLS season everyone including myself was questioning whether or not Holden could step into the playmaking role vacated by DeRosario at Houston. He admirably stepped into the role, took it over, and flourished in several positions on the pitch. He has also made a huge impact on the national scene in the minimal chances he had on the right wing and in the Gold Cup.

    Dude has skills, I have only respect for him. Like every other Yank who moves across the ocean, as long as he gets significant playing time I don’t care where he goes in ENGLAND. -10000% chance he goes to Scotland. Vegas would scoff at the idea of placing odds on it it’s so unthinkable.

  16. “Onalfo is young, well-respected and takes over a D.C. team with much more attacking talent than he ever had in Kansas City.”

    C’mon Ives…Josh Wolff and Claudio Lopez.

    (SBI- I’d go with Moreno, Quaranta, Gomez, Pontius, Fred and Castillo over Wolff, Lopez and Arnaud. That’s just me though.)

  17. Various reports on the internet say Burnley and Celtic are interested in Ricardo Clark…..Both of those moves would be excellent for Rico

    Holden to Burnley would be good as well, its funny that Rico was linked with Burnley yesterday and now Holden is linked with Burnley today… would be very neat to see both at Burnley, though a Celtic move for Rico would be very nice

    Ives, I have to ask this…..

    Eddie Johnson isnt getting any time a Fulham and it might make sence for him to come back to MLS this Jan. Has there actually been anything said by Johnson or his agent of late?

  18. Spector got torched repeatedly by Lennon today, but it’s really not his fault. Lennon is in amazing form and damn near unstoppable these days when he takes off down the wing or cuts in towards goal. I actually thought Spector did an admirable job in positioning and recovering, and he was great with the ball at his feet. I think he’s probably still our best option at right back. I love Stevie C, but he’d probably have even more trouble with Lennon.

  19. I can easily see Holden fitting into the Burnley style. More so than Blackburn to be honest. Either way, I’d love to have another Yank to root for in the EPL, regardless of what team he plays for.


  20. i agree completely with that idea but i wonder if spector would be suitable at left back with cherundolo at RB. i know those positions aren’t 100% interchangeable but it bothers me when our biggest area of need (LB) goes unsolved while we have to sit one of two competent RB’s in spector and dolo

  21. I am certainly excited about Castillo and am familiar with his exploits against the USMNT. I was under the impression that he would be a wing player possibly replacing Fred, however. If he can play up top and off of Pontius I would be very happy.

    In the back I would like a big central defender to put with Jacovic who played great last year, and Namoff who is older, but very steady. Where Wallace ends up remains to be seen. I think his future might be on the wing until his defense improves.

  22. I think Alexandria hit it on the head. Spector is our best option at RB. There really is NO doubt about that, no matter which was you cut it – and you make it sound like he’s slow, which he’s not. He’s just not as “quick” as Lennon.. but his positioning often makes up for that when issues arise.
    The problem comes if/when Dempsey doesn’t track back to help out (which is quite often, especially as the game progresses). From the few instances that Holden has taken that role and Dempsey moved up, we have seen a much better result from the entire right side. And it lets deuce do what deuce does so damn well! We can hope CD will be to top form by WC time, but that might be too much to ask. Otherwise, BB should keep deuce up top or come up with a plan so that deuce doesn’t have too many defensive responsibilities.

  23. Christian Castillo just signed with DC, he is from El Salvador, he’s the one who gave Frankie Hedjuk a Salsa lesson near the corner flag in El Salvador until Bradley came to rescue Hedjuk from further embarrassment!

    He also outjumped Heydude for the 2nd goal, literary reversed T-Baggying him, and in Salt Lake City he scored the go ahead goal that El Salvador was up early after Bornstein’s mess up.

    He’s fast and was playing in Mexico’s 2nd division, they pay much better in that 2nd division than in El Salvador’s best team!

    He should be good with Fred, Pontius, I don’t know if they are bringing Luciano Emilio and Chritian Gomez back?

    They should be able to draft a good CB in the draft!

    I want DC to get good again but need to go all out in Concacaf Champions League if they qualify again! No matter how “crowded” the schedule is, I’m tired of hearing MLS coaches complain about it, Europe if you’re good or compete for the Cup you have 2 games a week over half of the season!

  24. Landon Donovan is the best American soccer player (arguably). But Stuart Holden is not so much worse that he should want to play in MLS and make a tenth (or even a fifth) of what Donovan makes.

    And where Donovan seems to have an uncanny ability to maintain great international form while playing in an inferior league, he is most likely the exception that proves the rule. Holden needs to go to Europe, perhaps to a middle-of-the-road club, make the money he deserves and improve himself. It just plain makes sense. Sorry MLS. Maybe treat all teams and players as equals and you wouldn’t face this problem every single effing transfer period.

  25. Timmy, It has been reported several times that Clark has made it known to Houston that he has no intention of re-signing with MLS.

    There was interest from Livorno previously, but they’ve publicly stated that the interest is dead for right now. They have bigger problems to fix right now.

    I’d imagine he has several opportunities to mull over.

  26. I think much like Landon, Holden can make a real impact.

    Probably move either of those EPL teams up closer to 10th place.

    I feel sorry for Holden, there is no way he really wants to play for those loser teams, but money is important.

    MLS is doing the right thing. I think this will be a real test to see how far away MLS is away from keeping the talent at home. Looks like they are close…but maybe not quite there ?

  27. Dude, we lost that game, and Kaka and Fabiano played a big part in Brazils resurgence. I think its a lot to ask of him in that game and Dempsey doesn’t track back in national team games, the only way I see spector is if Dempsey is a forward and stu is that rightsided mid, because he is more of a two way player. But we’ll see right?

  28. Nothing wrong with speaking the truth JC, and lord knows Goff has some readers on his site who love to dog SBI. In the end, there’s a reason SBI crushed the Insider for Best Blog.

  29. Timmy, Rico had strong interest from Serie A’s Livorno right after the Confeds Cup in the Summer Transfer window, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to go with them unless they are pretty deep at the holding mid position!

    But the guy has proven to be capable to play in games vs Brazil twice, Spain and Egypt so I’m sure he’ll go somewhere, specially since it’s a free transfer!

    But I am praying is not Celtic, I root for Rangers and that is where out 2 American boys are ( Edu & Beasley ) plus they are dirty in Scottland and Racist, I recently saw the tackle in which Edu got hacked vs Celtic or someone at the end of the year last season, it was nasty let me tell you!

    Rather him go to Italy, much better defensive oriented league to ply his trade and become more of a destroyer, I could even see him developing his long range shooting which is pretty good for someone who hardly spends any time going up

  30. If Spector was able to handle Kaka and Robinho and Luis Fabiano and the Spain wingers he should be able to do fine vs England, I think Dempsey playes much better with Spector behind him, I mean realistically who do we have aside from Spector and Cherundolo? Dolo isn’t faster!

    I think he should be starting considering he has a bunch of EPL experience, and then you have Dempsey, Donovan with his upcoming Everton short loan and maybe Holden off the bench or if we play with a 4-5-1 he’ll be there too! Wow Sunderland scored again!

    Sorry trying to watch Blackburn to figure out how good their mids are, I think Stuart Holden can play on this squad easily, they are not very strong at midfield specially the wings!

  31. Dude, Goff is on vacation till next year. Let the man have some time off.

    That said, I appreciate the info you give out on all the teams, Ives. I just hate when other people try to start blog wars on blogs that aren’t even theirs.

  32. Fans are never happy. They want a guy with MLS credentials because the league’s rules are so unique, but if you have coached in MLS before you are a retread… Whatever.

    Curt, welcome aboard. Let’s add some speed up top, muscle in the back and make some noise. 2 years is too long.

  33. I think Stu to Burnley would be a good move, Burnley play a nice attractive style they just need depth. I think to say MLS can’t match Burnleys offer is not true they could match it, its just houston wasted their DP on Landin. If MLS had free agency then Stu could probabaly get a DP spot on another team, but they don’t so he’s off to Burnley, good for him.

  34. He looked a little shakey at first, but then he settled in, he was marking aaron lennon who just is a horrible match up for spector, his teammate on that side had to constantly track back and help him. Just my opinion but I don’t see spector starting vs england in the world cup, he’s just to slow, with joe cole and lennon on the wings we will have to match the speed they bring and Spector just can’t stack up, plus that would limit our wing play especially since he’ll be on the same side as dempsey.

  35. I was in LA for Christmas and saw that Repulica Deportiva said that C. Blanco to Veracruz is off because VC would have to pay Club America a transfer fee (150k?). Any word on this. I can’t imagine Blanco would risk not having a club leading up to the World Cup. Perhaps back to Chicago with a big pay cut?

  36. Ives- The Washington Post in my hometown newspaper but you are lapping The Insider with information…even on my hometown club. I come here on the reg now.

    Goff, are you reading? Step it up. Your information trickles in. Stop keeping bankers hours.

  37. no kidding. ESPN2 doesn’t exactly get the primo game from week to week do they? They did get Chelsea on Boxing Day, but even that was kind of a snoozer.

  38. Hey Ives – is it a forgone conclusion that Rico Clark leaves Houston as well? I read reports that he has been linked with Celtic and Burnley of late.


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