Former Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden was in attendance at Tuesday night's U.S. Open Cup match between Chivas USA and Houston. After the match, he took a few moments to catch up with SB Nation Houston about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, life on the United States Men's National team, and the upcoming English Premier League season with Bolton Wanderers.
Jordan Wise: Stuart, you just returned from South Africa from your first World Cup. How was it?
Stuart Holden: It was a great experience, an experience I'll carry with me for a lifetime. I think we felt the buzz over there with the way the country rallied behind us a little bit. We had a good run and I think we're a little disappointed the way it ended, but we still enjoyed every second and hopefully it helps build soccer in the U.S.
JW: Speaking of buzz, how bad was the noise from all the vuvuzelas on the pitch and in the games?
SH: The vuvuzelas are a part of their culture so I don't think there was ever any way that they were going to be banned or taken away, but it made it tough to hear on the field. [Vuvuzela sounds come from the parking lot]. There's one now. But, it provided a bit of atmosphere, something that was a little bit different, and I feel like this World Cup will definitely be remembered for them.
JW: How much of the country were y'all able to see?
SH: Not very much. We were pretty secluded, to be honest. We were really focused on what we were doing, which was trying to win a World Cup. But, you know, we had a nice base camp and we were able to experience the culture with the people and the hotel staff and just the whole buzz of the WC.
JW: I know all the fans really enjoyed watching your videos from inside the camp and enjoyed that behind-the-scenes look.
JW: You didn't get as much playing time as we hoped you would. What are your thoughts on that?
SH: Obviously, if you weren't disappointed then you shouldn't be playing the game. You always want to be playing and always want to be on the field. But, at the same time, in that kind of tournament and in that kind of environment, your job is to be there and, whatever role you play, whether it's a big role, a limited role, or no role at all, you're always there, you're a part of the team, you're in amongst it, and it goes a long way for our team spirit that everybody was on board with that and was prepared when called upon. No one can ever take it away from me that I've played in a WC and hopefully I can build on that and play a big part in Brazil.
JW: Talk us through Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria. I was watching from my office and was going wild. The first person I saw after the goal was you, sliding in from the sideline to celebrate with your teammates. How excited were you?
SH: [Laughs] Yeah, I think, well, to be honest, a couple minutes before that when they put the time up for three minutes of extra time, I was, uh...You know, I think I'd be lying to you if I said I thought we were going to score. I kinda just saw the play developing and I think I was halfway down the sideline before he knocked it in. I was the first one sliding in past the flag and jumping on top of him. It was an unbelievable feeling and being at the bottom of that dogpile and feeling that camaraderie and knowing that we had done something special was a feeling that I will take with me until I die.
JW: How tough was the Ghana result to swallow?
SH: It was tough. After expectations had been built up and we, ourselves, had hoped to get past that round and into the semifinals if we had won the next one. So, just standing there on the field, reflecting on this ride, everything, it's over, it was tough to swallow but, that disappointment, I want to use it as motivation the next time around.
JW: What were your thoughts on the referees in the World Cup? There were quite a few controversial calls this tournament. What did you think of them?
SH: Yeah, uh, um, I would prefer not to talk too much about the refereeing. There's always decisions that go your way and there's always decisions that don't. It's just how you get on with it. That's just the game of soccer. It's how you deal with that and how you persevere.
JW: Who do you think is going to win the World Cup?*
SH: I think Germany is going to win, they've looked really good. They have a tough match on Wednesday against Spain, but the way they've played as a team and the discipline and the unity they have that they can do some good things.
JW: So when do you start training again with Bolton?
SH: The 19th of July.
JW: Well, I know a lot of Houston Dynamo fans and National Team fans can't wait to watch you play a full season in England. Good luck to you.
* - Question was asked prior to Wednesday's elimination of Germany. Better luck next time, Mr. Holden.