Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Even a neutral watching the U.S.-Belize game on Tuesday would have to feel good for Stuart Holden picking up a goal.
In 2010, Holden broke his leg when he met a Nigel de Jong slide tackle in a friendly between the Netherlands and the U.S. Holden recovered from the injury in time to make the U.S. World Cup squad but only played four minutes in the entire tournament.
In the ensuing 2010-11 English Premier League season, Holden locked down a regular spot in Bolton’s midfield and played so well that he won Bolton’s Player of the Year award. However, another horror tackle, this one by Manchester United’s Jonny Evans, resulted in a torn ACL.
Two years and multiple surgeries later, Holden finally returned to the field this past spring in a few limited appearances for Bolton.
While Holden was a part of the United States' May/June camp, he did not receive any significant playing time in those games. On Friday night, against Guatemala, Holden saw his first significant minutes for the U.S. and showed USMNT fans what they had been missing.
On Tuesday night against Belize, Holden notched his first goal for the USMNT since coming back from his injury. In the 59th minute, Landon Donovan knocked down a Joe Corona cross to a well-positioned Holden, who finished easily from there.
Recovering from a serious injury is one of the most difficult things a professional athlete can do. Recovery includes a feeling of exclusion from one’s teammates, frustration, depression and self-doubt. Holden has overcome serious injuries multiple times in his career, and he should be applauded for his perseverance.