On Sunday, the United States extended their record-setting win streak with a 1-0 win over Panama. However, it wasn't all fun and games as the U.S. celebrated their first Gold Cup championship since 2007.
The win was marred by an unfortunate injury to fan favorite Stuart Holden.
American fans watched as Holden fell to the ground in the 22nd minute, hoping he would get up because of his unlucky past with injuries. Unfortunately, Holden tore his left ACL, leaving his future with the United States in clear question.
Holden has a clear vision of his recovery.
Holden had finally returned to the U.S. National Team after his second major injury in two years, but unfortunately, it was a short stint. Holden had definitely played well enough to be included in the September World Cup qualifiers, but without his services for a minimum of six to seven months, where does the United States go from there?
Holden would have been used primarily as a substitute for World Cup qualifying and beyond, so the injury isn't all that devastating to the future of the team.
Michael Bradley is arguably the best player on the field for the Americans as he can balance the duties of distributing and defending exceptionally well. The other central midfield role—assuming Klinsmann sticks with the 4-2-3-1 formation—will most likely go to Jermaine Jones.
The German native has played a huge role for the United States over the last few years, but often times, his play is erratic. Jones is a traditional No. 6, but his strong play leads to dangerous tackles and yellow cards.
Before Holden’s injury, Klinsmann was definitely working him up to the point to where he could be a super-sub for Jones. With Holden’s incredible vision and offensive ability, he would have been great to play 25 minutes in the game when you really need a goal.
Klinsmann generally doesn't substitute his central midfielders, but Holden would have provided a great spark of energy off the bench. Without Holden, Klinsmann won’t change his strategy in using the substitute.
Recently cap-tied Mix Diskerud could now be used as the super-sub based on his play in the Gold Cup. Diskerud proved that he is a great passer and has great vision on the field. Until Holden can get back to 100 percent—if that happens before the World Cup—expect Diskerud to log some minutes behind Jones.
While many have written off Holden to fully recover before the World Cup, Klinsmann and the United States are fully behind him.
The United States head coach said this after hearing about Holden’s injury:
We are absolutely devastated for Stuart. He is such a great part of our team on the field and the locker room. He worked tremendously hard to recover from previous injuries and had really come back into form. He was fully prepared to head back to Bolton and challenge for a starting spot. Now he will have our full support as he goes down this road again, and we will be with him every step of the way.
Clearly Klinsmann had a plan for the often-injured Holden. If Holden can bite the bullet and recover quickly, Klinsmann’s potential strategy won’t go to waste.