One of the more promising storylines for U.S. Soccer fans has been the progress of Stuart Holden, the charismatic midfielder who has suffered through a series of substantial injuries that put a rising career on hold. His debut and performance for the U.S. MNT during the 2009 Gold Cup led to a spot on the 2010 FIFA World Cup roster, but since then knee problems have kept him off the international scene for nearly three years, as he last appeared Oct. 12, 2010, against Colombia.
Holden has earned praise for his dedication and positive spirit in tirelessly working to return to the field, and today U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann delivered a big boost of confidence by announcing that Holden would be called in to the National Team this summer.
“We’ve been in touch with Stuart throughout this whole injury period,” said Klinsmann. “The last couple of months have given us a lot of positive signals. I spoke to his coach at Bolton, and spoke to his coach at Sheffield Wednesday where he played some very important minutes and games while on loan. He’s on his way back. That being said, we want to have him back in our picture. We are going to bring him for the May-June camp, and also for the Gold Cup.”
While serving double duty this summer may seem a burden, for the recovering Holden – and his club – the time with the National Team represents a huge opportunity. Holden played his first minutes since October of 2011 when got 65 minutes in a reserve game in January, and has made a total of eight appearances and four starts since which included a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday. As the season closes, clearly he is itching for more.
“We have the backing from his club that we can play him through the summer,” Klinsmann said. “He knows there won’t be big vacation time, and he said ‘I don’t want vacation anymore. I had one and a half years off!’ So that’s exciting news for us, having him back in the group and seeing him and evaluating where he’s at, and helping him become the old Stuart Holden, and even better because he’s still so young.”
In addition to the ability and versatility Holden brings to the midfield, Klinsmann sees the intangibles as an equally important piece of the puzzle.
“He’s a tremendous character,” continued Klinsmann. “He’s a positive thinker. He’s a giver, and you need givers on your team. When you go toward the World Cup you always need to look out for people who are able to suffer and be there for their teammates. Stuart is a role model in that. At the end of the day, it still depends on how good he is and how strong he comes back, and we are excited to see how he does.”