‘We were a combo deal’ Reds’ US imports on how they ended up in Adelaide

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Jenna Holtz and Mariah Lee go way back.

Newly settled in Australia as the newest international recruits to Adelaide United’s Liberty A-League Women’s squad, the Americans first met as teenagers in the eighth grade playing for the Washington Premier Football Club.

After much success together, their journeys took different directions through college and then to all parts of the globe, until the opportunity to join the Reds arose earlier this year.

And it all came down to a connection to the club’s 2016/17 player of the year and US international Sofia Huerta.

“I had (coach Adrian Stenta’s) Stents’ number from a past player – Sofia Huerta – so I had his contact and reached out,” Holtz explained to Jarrod Walsh on The Pitch Podcast.

“He said he also needed a forward, so I put (Lee) through too.”
Holtz, who has started at left back in the opening two games of the season, explained that she had always wanted to come to Australia and jumped at the chance.

The 28-year-old was excited to take in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and get a taste of what was in store for her when she got to Adelaide.
“I watched a lot of the World Cup,” Holtz said.

“I had always wanted to go to Australia so when (the event) was there, it was very cool.

“We were talking with Stents before and he said that they were having some games here and hosting and I know we have the benches still from the World Cup so we’ve definitely gotten some nice reparations from that, too.”

The World Cup was also a key driver for Lee’s big shift to Australia.

“It’s really a cool time to be a women’s soccer player, I think globally,” she explained.

“And part of my decision to come here was the momentum after the World Cup here.

“But in the States, I just think it’s cool because people respect (female athletes) and soccer. You can say ‘I’m a soccer player’ and people know it’s legit.”

While football brought them together as youngsters, it also separated them – Holtz to Canada, Portugal and Puerto Rico and Lee to Switzerland, Scotland and Spain.

But having each other has made the transition to life in Adelaide easier.

The duo is now living with teammates Hannah Blake and Alana Janćevski in Adelaide’s inner north-east.

“We have played in a lot of different places so we both know the experience of being the new kid or knowing you are the only one who speaks English or whatever so we knew going in we’re like, we’re going to have a good time regardless,” Lee said.

“We’ll be able to hang out and we knew we were going to live together so even our parents are so much more comfortable knowing that we have each other because they know each other because we played club together growing up.”

While the connection between Holtz and Lee is evident, the chemistry between them and the rest of Stenta’s team is growing.

With Lee scoring a penalty in an entertaining four-all draw with Canberra to start the season followed by a disappointing 2-1 loss to Central Coast, the Reds will next face the Victory in Melbourne, seeking their first win of the campaign.

Based on the style their playing and the growing connection within the group, Holtz is confident the results are coming.

“I’m glad that we’re more of a possession team,” she said. “I’ve been on teams where they just boot it and there’s no real like chemistry.
“I think our team has a lot of chemistry and I like the way we move the ball and everything so yeah, I think for sure potential, once we get our little kinks out.”

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