FC Tampa Bay hosts the English Premier League's Bolton Wanderers this Thursday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium.
Fans may still purchase tickets by calling the FC Tampa Bay ticket office at (813) 287-1539 or clicking here.
FCTampaBay.com had the chance to catch up with a few of the Bolton players over the last few days. Here is what captain Kevin Davies, midfielder and USMNT member Stuart Holden and defender Zat Knight had to say about a number of topics.
Captain and Striker Kevin Davies
How important is this preseason trip for the club?
“It is crucial really, we had a tough week of training, it was really good and really hard. We’re getting there. We got the fitness in and now we want to get some matches in and be competitive. I think that is why the reason why the manager likes coming off to the States, we did that last season I think he has done it with previous clubs and he enjoyed it. I think everyone is looking forward to coming over and we enjoyed the tour last year. I would say it was a tough week for the boys but it is nice when you can actually do all the hard work and then look forward to the matches.”
Do the players view this as a business trip or will there be some down time as well?
“I think the manager enjoys coming to the States because he enjoys that the level of football is good and the training facilities are fantastic. On the side a bit, we do get some down time. When you work hard sometimes you need a little bit of down time. If you are stuck away in some training camp sometimes you can get a little bit bored. And that’s why the players enjoys coming over to the States. It is great to get the seriousness of the football in but the team will be looking to go out and check out wherever we are staying whether it be Tampa or Orlando or Houston maybe. We will be looking to go out and see the town and that kind of stuff as well. There are a lot of benefits to the trip, really.”
What do you know about the teams you will be facing?
“Not too much. I think once we get out there we will look to do training and then look to see who we are playing against. We are expecting a difficult game because obviously FC Tampa Bay is into their season as where we are only a week into our preseason. We will expect a difficult game, and obviously the climate as well it will be difficult for us. We will use it as a great workout and get us right for the start of the season in August.”
How important will it be to try and win the matches here?
“I think our manager is very competitive. He does not like losing so we will be coming over looking to win the matches. Without being too naïve, it is important to get some game minutes under everyone’s belt. We have a big squad, and we are looking to get some game time under the belts of each player. We are looking forward to coming over. It is nice to do all of the hard fitness work and it is nice to be able to take that into some matches and we are expecting some difficult games.”
Midfielder Stuart Holden
How is your rehab going from your injury?
“I have made some good progress the last couple of weeks. I was in the States working with one of the trainers from the US National Team. Since I have gotten back to England last week I have gotten up to speed with the Bolton staff and we have been doing a lot of strengthening on my quads and hamstrings. I am actually feeling really good, just keep moving, keep moving along the train and see where we go.”
What are the goals of this trip?
“I think there are a number of goals on the preseason tour. One of them is team bonding. You get the guys away for 12 days together, the interaction, spending all that time together, and training -going through preseason together really helps you grow as a team. I think that is a big thing our manager is key on: team spirit and it really helped us last year on our run. At the same time we are going to get some good games: Tampa, Orlando and finishing with my old team, Houston. Those are three good games and three well-supported teams. It is a different climate than what we are used to physically, which will test us and that is another plus. I think all that combined makes for a good tour.”
Talk about training during the first week in England.
“I have been picking guys up off the ground. They have been doing a lot of running which is pretty standard wherever you go in preseason. Our manager likes to get the balls out as soon as possible and get the guys playing and doing a bit of fitness with the balls and get you chasing after it. We have been doing double days and the guys have been working hard. But the main thing is that everyone seems to be in good spirits and are willing to do that work because we have all enjoyed our time off, not so much me, but we have all had some time off over the summer and get to relax with our families after a long season and now it is time kick it up a gear and get ready for next year.”
Talk about the US Men’s National Team and the recently concluded Gold Cup.
“I think coming off the World Cup there are more expectations on the US team which is good because it is going to force us to kick on and push ourselves because every cycle it is our goal to improve as a national team and be better than our last performances. I think we saw some of our younger players make a bit of a name for themselves as some were in the Gold Cup and that is going to be important going forward to integrate those younger players with the ‘old guard’ you could say. It’s going to make for an exciting future. Obviously, very disappointing the result in the final, the loss to Mexico, especially at the Rose Bowl. I know none of the guys were happy with that, but once again we have got to move on from there, because World Cup qualifying starts in October.”
Defender Zat Knight
How is training going so far?
“We got back last Monday. So far it’s all good. The training has been tough obviously because we have had five weeks off. So to get back into it, the first week is always the toughest week –getting all the cobwebs off as they say. I am really enjoying it; it is good to be back. I am looking forward to the new season. I am looking forward to the preseason.
Talk about the trip here to the States.
“I think us coming over to Tampa is a good exercise for us. I mean you guys are kind of halfway through the season so your fitness level is a lot higher than us. So we have to push ourselves a bit more. It is warm weather training so it is going to help us fitness-wise. And as a team it gives us a chance to bond together since we have been apart for the last five six weeks. Us coming away to America, obviously as an English speaking country, you know sometimes you find it a bit difficult when you go to Europe and you go to places that are not English speaking so you know it gives the boys a good chance to relax. We are playing against some good teams over there and like I said the fitness level is a lot different.”
What do you know about American soccer?
“Funny enough I played against Tampa a few years ago. I’d be lying to tell you how many years ago it was but I’ve been playing in Tampa and against the Miami Fusion and I know it will be a tough test for us. You know obviously a lot of teams in the MLS or other leagues want to play against Premier teams; they obviously step their game up a bit. They can watch us on TV week in and week out and they want to test how good they are in terms as individuals.”