January 13, 2017
HOLLAND'S TUNNEL VISION
Hofstra's English midfielder hopes he has impressed enough at combine to show what he can do in MLS
By Michael Lewis
|Joseph Holland: "I'll play anywhere. I love the U.S. I really love this country," he said. "I think it's a fantastic place. To live, especially when you're at the age I'm at, your early twenties, it is an incredibly diverse interesting place."
Photo courtesy of Hofstra SID
CARSON, Calif. -- Having grown up in South London in England, Joe Holland knows all about living in a soccer environment. In England, they eat, live and breathe the beautiful game.
Now the Hofstra University senior midfielder wants to experience it in a Major League Soccer training camp. To do that he would need to be chosen by a team at Friday's SuperDraft in Los Angeles.
The 5-10, 170-lb. Holland tried to do the best he can, trying to turn some heads at the MLS combine at the StubHub Center the past week.
"I want an opportunity to go just into the preseason to go into a pro environment, so I can show that I can manage myself in the whole environment and good enough to play at that level," Holland told BigAppleSoccer.com Tuesday. "I never had an opportunity train in a pro environment for a long period of time, so I would like a two or three-week span in pre-season in a pro environment in order to prove to a coach who has showed some belief in me that I can play at that level."
Holland has impressed coaches, according to at least one writer who has watched all three days of the combine.
"The player who was not on the radar of most MLS teams but has caught the attention of several front offices is Hofstra midfielder Joe Holland," FourFourTwo.com writer Paul Tenorio wrote. "The London native would eat up an international spot, but he has had a solid, consistent performance over both days of the combine and at least one team changed its interview plans to schedule Holland for a sit-down.
"Holland is 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds and has played in a sort of playmaker role at the combine and he has shown good passing and vision in that role. He finished his Hofstra career with 19 goals and 28 assists and was a first-team all-CAA selection as a senior. Donít be shocked if a team snags him in the first round."
After his team Tango played to a 2-2 draw with Control Tuesday, Holland spoke about the challenges of performing in a combine.
"I thought I played well," he said. "It's always difficult in the first five, 10 minutes of each game -- the game on Sunday and today -- to get into the game to get enough touches on the ball to feel comfortable. It was different conditions on Sunday than today. It was slippier and wetter today so its different the first five, 10 minutes in this trial scenario. Everyone's moving erratically and everyone's fast-paced. You need five, 10 minutes to get into the game. I think after five, 10 minutes on each one of them, I felt more comfortable with the ball. I hope I have impressed. I feel I have been good with both feet and comfortable on the ball."
Holland, 23, has been taking his cues from Tango coach Jamie Franks, who the head men's soccer coach at the University of Denver.
He said Franks is "a really good guy, a really good coach has been telling me that I have been doing well. He tells me what MLS coaches want to see and the little things they want from me as a guy who can progress to the next level. So, I am taking on information that he's giving me. I thought that if I could play my natural game and showed that I can use both feet and comfortable on the ball and work hard defensively, I'm sure if I do enough things that should be enough to impress."
Holland, a West Bromwich Albion fan as a child before throwing his support toward Liverpool because "I think my love for my mum has kind of drove me towards Liverpool," admitted he misses his home "very much."
But if he gets his wish and is drafted, he might not be able to visit his home for a while.
An economics-philosophy major, Holland still has a few classes to take in the former to complete his bachelor's degree. He hopes to finish his school commitments in the next year. If he is drafted, Holland has a plan.
"I am hoping to take those courses long distance," he said. "I think I have confidence with the economics department because they trust me to complete the work, some of it long distance. Hopefully I can do that because I would like to finish my degree soon so I can get a master's in economics. I'm dedicated enough that if I have a few hours a day I'll dedicate them to studying instead of playing FIFA. I feel I can do it."
So much that Holland is hungry to play professionally, particularly in the United States.
"I'll play anywhere. I love the U.S. I really love this country," he said. "I think it's a fantastic place. To live, especially when you're at the age I'm at, your early twenties, it is an incredibly diverse interesting place. I would love to play soccer here and enjoy the American lifestyle and play a high level over here. It would be incredible."
He will find out soon enough at the MLS SuperDraft Friday.