U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Stuart Holden is in Los Angeles this week getting a progress report on his rehabilitation process, and he accepted an invitation from Jurgen Klinsmann to spend time with the team while he’s here. The 2010 FIFA World Cup veteran had his second knee injury in as many years when he went down in September of last year and continues to work his way back toward the field. ussoccer.com decided to get its own update from one of the USA’s most popular players.
ussoccer.com: After we tweeted a photo of you here in camp, there was a question on a lot of people’s minds – how is your hair doing?
Stuart Holden: The hair is standing up and looking splendiferous. It’s standing up on its ends, but it needs a little color so a trip to the stylist may be in order.
ussoccer.com: What brings you to Los Angeles?
SH: “I’m here for a scan with Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, who has been overseeing my rehab. It’s kind of a check up with him to make sure everything is going as planned. I spoke with Jurgen, and he was very welcoming and invited me to come in and join up with the group. For me, that was a no brainer. I love being around the National Team. I haven’t really had the chance to interact with him and his staff very much, so it’s been nice to get to know him better and for him to get to know me better as a person off the field. Hopefully when I’m back playing it will make it an easier transition if and when I get called back in again.”
ussoccer.com: Where are you in terms of the rehab process?
SH: “I’m doing a lot of weight training right now. Hopefully this appointment with Bert will tell me I can step it up another notch and that everything has healed the way I hoped it would. It’s kind of exciting. From here I go back to see Jim Hashimoto in Delaware for another couple months. By then hopefully I’ll be doing some pretty serious stuff and pushing myself closer to the finish line.”
ussoccer.com: We know how much you like being around the group, and there a lot of players here that you know from your MLS days …
SH: “There are a lot of guys who have done well in MLS and a lot of guys I played against there, so it’s good to see them in here. They deserve to be here and show what they can do. It’s a very talented group with some young players and players with a lot to prove who want to show they can play at this level.”
ussoccer.com: Even though you aren’t ready to play, does being in camp and putting on the crest help lift your spirits?
SH: “Yeah, it gives me a boost. It was nice to be back around Bolton for the last month to hang out with the guys, be around the place, and just feel a part of things again. Sometimes rehab can be a lonely place and you’re kind of isolated, but at the same time sometimes that isolation is nice. It’s nice to get away and work on your own because the team environments are good for morale and good for you in terms of feeling a part of it. At the same time, it makes you wish you were still playing and training with these guys. Being around the guys gives you a confidence boost and a bit of motivation as well. You realize how special it is to be a part of these groups and how much you want to be a part of it again.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve had a chance to watch the team since Jurgen Klinsmann took charge. What have been your impressions?
SH: “From the outside, it looks like we are building something special. Jurgen has brought some new ideas. Everybody is in a feeling-out process at first. The coaching staff is figuring out who their guys are and what works best. At the same time, players are getting used to changes both on and off the field. When you get inside the group, you get the same sense of camaraderie. It’s been a very light-hearted group, and when you are in the field, you can see how hard the guys are working. The coaches are working hard to get everything moving and get their philosophy ingrained into the boys. It seems to be working well, and everyone seems to be enjoying it.”
ussoccer.com: You are famous for your positive attitude, even in these challenging moments. How are you holding up through this process?
SH: “My personal spirits are always good, other than the odd week or two at the beginning of my injuries. I think I’m always thankful for where I am, and that in turn allows me to be humble in my rehab. Yes, it’s an injury, and there is nothing I can do about it. There is only one path for me. I’ve got to do the rehab and get back on the field. The alternative is that you give it up, and that’s never been an option for me. It’s tough at times, but personally I’m always coming in with a smile on my face and laughing and joking. That’s what I love most about being in these camps – getting to be around the group, mixing it up with banter, and getting to see some old faces that I haven’t seen in a while. I’m just looking forward to edging closer to the finish line.”