January 24, 2017
HE'S NO ORDINARY JOSEPH
Hofstra's Joseph Holland is ready to show Houston heís a real dynamo
By Michael Lewis
|Joseph Holland: I think if I come down there with any presumptions or expectations, then it will harm me. I just want to go down there and go on the first day of preseason and just work as hard as i possibly can."
Photo by Michael Lewis
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Joseph Holland admits he isn't into anything like supernatural forces, but he might make an exception this time.
He has realized that there is something about the number 10 that might have turned into the cornerstone of his soccer career.
He subscribes to Hofstra University assistant men's coach Gary Book's theory that a player needs 10,000 hours of practice to turn him or herself into a decent player, at the very least.
For the Pride, he wore the No. 10 jersey.
And the English-born midfielder was chosen as the 10th overall pick in the first round of the recent Major League SuperDraft by the Houston Dynamo.
Coincidence, supernatural force or something else?
After receiving a send-off by the Hofstra coaching staff, administrators and former teammates, Holland joined the Dynamo Monday.
"I don't really believe in supernatural forces but if there was a supernatural force it could be the number 10," he said last Friday.
To Hofstra head coach Richard Nuttall, the Englishman has been nothing but a 10 on his scale of players because no other Pride player has been chosen this high in the draft.
"He has been a constant in that journey and that constant is most days when we've ever been at Hofstra, Joe has been out on the field a lot of the time by himself and he has been bettering himself," Nuttall said. "So whatever Joe gets in the professional soccer side it's truly has been earned and nobody can take it away from him for the amount of work that he's put in.
"Gary always talks about the 10,000 hours you've got to put in to be a high level sportsman and I think Joe has definitely done the 10,000 hours and many more."
Draft day -- Friday, Jan. 13 -- turned out to be a lucky one for Holland. After impressing at the MLS combine for a week, he flew cross-country to Hofstra and watched the draft proceedings on his TV, which was connected to his Ipad in his dorm room.
"It was really indescribable. Surreal. I think it is the best way I can think of. ... My Ipad froze. When my name is mentioned my phone starts vibrating and all this Houston Dynamo stuff starts popping up and then I start to realize my goodness, 'I have been picked.' My Ipad unfroze and then it said the No. 10 pick was Joe Holland. It was such a surreal moment. To get kind some of closure, some sort of culmination of all this hard work that with put ... all these incredible people standing in this room who have been supporting me the last four years."
As it turns out, Holland can be elusive off the field as he has been on it. Book remembered when he scouted him several years ago at a showcase in England.
"There was an instant recognition that you were going to be something exceptional, which was certainly was the way it turned out," said Book, adding that he was "always fearful that another 13-14 coaches are on the sideline would have noticed that. Joe didn't make it easy. I tracked him down for three or four months and he basically blanked me and refused to talk to me."
To which Holland retorted: "I had a girlfriend."
Eventually, Book did get ahold of Holland and persuaded him to attend the school.
"I had no idea where I was going," Holland said. "I had no idea where Hofstra really was. There was this idea in England that Washington, D.C. was not in Washington state and New York City was not in New York state. I wasn't sure what state I was going to. Actually, when I first arrived, I missed home a lot. But over the last four years I have grown to love this place so much that I want to stay here. Going to Houston is going to be really difficult because I love Long Island so much. I really want to come back to New York in the future and make a life here at some point."
But at the present time, Holland will be focused on making the team in Houston.
The Dynamo is coached by Wilmer Cabrera, a former Long Island Rough Riders player who also directed youth teams at B.W. Gottschee and who was coach of the U.S. Under-17 national team. Cabrera took over the coaching reins during the offseason, so everyone on the Dynamo is starting from scratch.
Translated: Holland has as good a chance of making the team if not playing as anyone else. It will come down to how he fares in the preseason.
"Of course, I am excited," he said. "I don't know what the coaching staff is thinking going into preseason in terms who they have high on their agenda in terms of starting. As a new coach, every player there has a blank slate to try to impress him. I think if I come down there with any presumptions or expectations, then it will harm me. I just want to go down there and go on the first day of preseason and just work as hard as i possibly can. I just want to push myself to the limit. I want to deal with the heat and I want to do all I can to make the Dynamo a success."
Holland is so versatile that he can play several positions from the back to the forward lines.
"In most of the meetings with the teams [at the combine], I said to them that I can paly anywhere 6 to 8 to 10, 11 and the 7. I think my versatility is aided by fitness. I can play a variety of positions. Whatever the Dynamo needs, that's what I'm going to do. I've waited a long time to have an opportunity to impress a professional team. I'm going to do whatever is required to do that."
Book had no doubt that Holland would fit in well, on and off the field.
"He's a man of quite incredible intelligence, quite at home talking about Islamic fundamentalism or hard Brexit or soft Brexit as he is about a flat back four or a forced No. nine, which is very interesting with his location down in Houston," he said. "I'm sure there will be some interesting political conversations down there."
Of course, if you are into this destiny and supernatural stuff, then you can go beyond the number 10 and use the letter H.
Holland played for Hofstra and he is trying to secure a spot on Houston.
Crazy? Maybe, maybe not.
All we know is that Hollandís former coach and peers wouldn't bet against him from accomplishing that.