Why Stuart Holden's Return Will Only Help United States Men's National Team
One of the missing components to the United States Men's National Team in the last year-and-a-half has finally returned to full fitness, and his return to the squad is rapidly approaching.
Going into the 2010-11 English Premier League, Stuart Holden was one the brightest prospects in the American camp after signing for Bolton Wanderers during the January 2010 transfer window.
All signs were pointing toward Holden becoming an integral player at both club and international levels.
Then, on March 19, 2011, came the tackle that changed the course of Holden's career thus far. Holden was tackled by Manchester United's Jonny Evans in a league match, Evans' studs caught Holden's right knee, and the American's ACL was torn.
Holden would end up missing the rest of that season and most of the 2011-12 campaign, when Bolton were relegated from the English Premier League to the Championship.
With the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Holden had a chance to start anew at the Reebok Stadium and finally recover from his brutal injury. Holden made his return on January 15, 2013, and after a successful month at Sheffield Wednesday in League One in March, the 27-year-old is finding himself on the verge of his old form.
Holden, who played for the Houston Dynamo in Major League Soccer for four seasons before moving to England, will now be back in the United States setup this summer, per manager Jurgen Klinsmann earlier this week (via US Soccer.com).
The midfielder, who could potentially be leading Bolton back to the EPL in the promotion playoffs later this month, will once again be counted on to provide plenty of veteran experience in the United States midfield.
According to the Goal.com report about Klinsmann's announcement, Holden will be a part of the World Cup Qualifying camp in May and June. Holden will also be a part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup team this July.
As ProSoccerTalk's Steve Davis pointed out in a recent post, Holden's addition to the squad will keep MLS stars like Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon at their respective clubs during the World Cup Qualifying camp, as Klinsmann looks to stay on good terms with the managers in the American top flight.
In what is expected to be a younger Gold Cup squad, Holden will give the Americans a player who has played in 17 competitive matches and has World Cup experience from South Africa.
Having a veteran who is looking to find full fitness—and in a squad full of youth that is expected to feature the likes of Jack McInerney, Josh Gatt and Terrence Boyd—will ease some of the concerns about leadership that Klinsmann may have going into the competition.
As is expected, very few of the players who are involved in the World Cup Qualifying camp will be present on the Gold Cup roster, with this year's competition not having an automatic FIFA Confederations Cup berth on the line.
With a long road to recovery finally behind him and a comeback road paved in front of him already, Holden's successful return will give American fans plenty to cheer about this summer.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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