Stuart Holden is Back and Ready to Get into the Mix
ussoccer.com: You've been down this road before, getting a first game in after a long injury. What was it like to get back out there?
Stuart Holden: "Relief. Excitement. Joy. It’s everything all together, really. It’s been a long journey. Since the first day I was injured, it has always been my goal to get back playing again. You go through ups and downs during your rehab, and some days are easier than others. All that hard work is worth it when you step out there for the first time."
ussoccer.com: What goes through your mind in a moment like this. Are you nervous? Concerned about the knee? Or are you able to put that all out of your mind?
SH: "It's a little bit of everything. It was the same with my broken leg. It’s always in the back of your mind a little bit. After you make that first tackle and the first pass and get yourself into the game, it’s all out the window from there. All you are focused on is winning and helping the team do well. I made my first tackle and the knee felt great, so with everything put together it made for a great night for me. I was really excited to get back."
ussoccer.com: How were you positioned on the field, and what were your thoughts on the performance?
SH: "I was playing like a holding midfielder in front of the back four in kind of a 4-1-4-1 formation. The manager wanted me to get on the ball and get touches early. As the game went on, I grew into it and got stronger. Overall, I was really happy with my performance since it was my first game in six months."
ussoccer.com: You have a great relationship with the other players on the squad. What was it like being around them again in the locker room?
SH: "I had made it a point to stay involved with the group while I was injured, because I feel like that’s really important. Once you come back, you don’t want to feel like you’ve missed a beat. All the guys have been great, texting me throughout my rehab and keeping me going with encouragement. It was the same again Tuesday night. Everybody was talking me through the game and giving me little bits of encouragement as it went on. All of that really helps your confidence and getting back in the swing of things."
ussoccer.com: Were you able to speak to Brad Guzan (who plays at Aston Villa)?
SH: "I caught up with the big polar bear. It was great to see him. I was hoping he would have had a chance to play tonight. He’s been working hard in training and waiting for his chance."
ussoccer.com: You had the opportunity to meet with Jurgen Klinsmann in England following a reserve game a couple weeks ago. How was the meeting?
SH: "I was flattered by the fact he made the journey to watch me in a reserve game in horrible conditions. It wasn’t one of my best nights playing and I was still really rusty. He assured me he had confidence in me. He sees me as a part of his plans with the national team, which is encouraging. No one is in a hurry to rush me back, which is great. There hasn’t been any pressure on me, and everyone has been really supportive. I think that has helped me get to where I am, and given me the motivation to keep working hard."
ussoccer.com: All the injury issues aside, many of your fans have one major concern: how is your hair doing?
SH: "My hair has managed to survive the injury the last six months. The rain hasn’t been doing me any favors recently. I’m in search of a new anti-rain hair gel."