After more than two years on sidelines, Holden happy with USMNT return

Stuart Holden USMNT practice (ISI)

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CLEVELAND – There were not many positives for the U.S. Men’s National Team to take away from their 4-2 defeat to Belgium, but there is no denying that what transpired in the 81st minute was something truly special.

As the U.S. trimmed the deficit at FirstEnergy Stadium to two goals thanks to a Clint Dempsey penalty kick, Stuart Holden slipped onto the field to replace Sacha Kljestan in the American midfield. Holden’s late cameo marked his first appearance at the international level since playing in a friendly against Colombia on Oct. 12, 2010 and put an exclamation point on what has been a long rehabilitation process on a problematic knee injury that he initially suffered a little more than two years ago.

“I was itching since the 50th minute and when (head coach Jurgen Klinsmann) looked my way and gave me the call, it was a great feeling for me. Personally, it kind of gave me goosebumps standing there,” said Holden. “As soon as you cross the white line, it’s business again, but looking back and reflecting on that moment when I stepped back on the field and took the warm-up off and put the jersey on was a special one.”

What may have been equally as memorable for the 27-year-old Holden as completing his comeback to the national team fold were the uplifting words Klinsmann gave him prior to sending him onto the field. Klinsmann once again applauded Holden’s attitude during his lengthy injury saga and that instilled plenty of confidence in the veteran as he walked over to the fourth official at midfield to check into the game.

“He just said, ‘Congratulations and you’ve worked hard for this, so go out and enjoy it,'” Holden told SBI. “That’s kind of the mindset I’d had going forward, so to hear that from him and all the encouragement that I’ve had from in terms of him reinforcing me and keeping me positive, it really makes me want to go out there not only for myself but to perform for him as a coach and reward that belief that he has in me as a player.”

In his nine minutes on the field, Holden got some touches on the ball and delivered several short passes from his central midfield spot. It was a solid but unspectacular first game back, one that can be used as a building block going forward.

That still did not make it any less special for Holden. He was all smiles after the match and acknowledged that he cherished the moment he was subbed in, something his teammates admitted as well.

“It’s nice to have Stuart back because he’s a guy who works super hard, he’s a guy who’s determined to fight back from all these injuries that he’s had and all these rough patches, so everyone’s happy (for him)” said Kljestan. “Jurgen said it before and everyone said it, he’s a great guy in the group and he’s a guy that gets along with everybody and makes people laugh and you need guys like that on your team. You want to have Stuart on your team, so we were happy to have him back tonight.”

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41 Responses to After more than two years on sidelines, Holden happy with USMNT return

  1. Dc says:

    This is the only positive from last night, but it’s a good one, especially after Kljestan’s performance!

    • EspinDOHla says:

      I was super happy for Stu after watching all his recover videos and following his progress. Nonetheless, I think Beasley’s 100th cap was pretty special as well–not to mention he was one of the best players for the US last night! But, yes, props to Stu. It was awesome seeing him run on the pitch.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      I agree, we need to steadily increase Stu’s minutes. He makes great decisions with the ball…same vision and soccer IQ as LD. Hopefully he gets at least 30 min against Germany.

  2. Josh D says:

    Looked as though he was going to cry when he first came on. We need people like that, players that truly care to be out there and aren’t phoning it in to get to the World Cup. I’m excited for him this Gold Cup and season.

    • Old School says:

      Who do you feel is phoning it in?

      • Dc says:

        I’m not sure I would say “phoning it in,” but man, some players just look so lazy when they are on the field, Dempsey, Altidore, Johnson all seem to stop running all together when they don’t have the ball. Compare this to DMB and Gomez, Jones, who seem to be constantly pressuring the ball.

      • V-8 says:

        Not sure who Josh D was referring to but the slow-motion replay of the celebration following Cameron’s goal showed one proximate player who was less than interested that the “team” just scored.

        Maybe just a coincidence.

        • SBI Troll says:

          In a friendly? Belgium failed to celebrate on their last goal. That must mean that they don’t care about their country.

        • Old School says:

          Yea, you’re not the only one that noticed that and pointed it out.

          Definitely not a good sign on the surface.

          • BumpBailey says:

            I think it was more of Benetke (sp?) not wanting to show up Guzan…. teammates at Villa and all..

            • Old School says:

              I don’t believe V-8 was referring to Belgium.

              • V-8 says:

                I was speaking about the USMNT.

                On the goal: so many big smiles, so much releif evening the score.
                Except one, very noticable player.

                There are several ways of identifying who is “into it”. With Stu and Timmy, it’s very easy.

                But then for some players, it becomes a constant question. You tend to wonder if they are playing for the team or for themselves. And then you see the success enjoyed by a teammate is not celebrated by that player. It’s easy to conclude (and myabe incorrect) that their attitude (finger pointing, etc.) is not helping them succeed and will ultimately hurt their long term prospects on the team.

                As far as Belgium, celebrating gets exhausing when you score that many.

        • Josh D says:

          *cough* it was the one you’re hinting, starts with J, ends in “ozy” *cough* I also think Dempsey is too happy to go disappearing for a whole half and only coming up to take a penalty and cheer like it was his *cough* but Dempsey is also our only consistent scorer so I’ll excuse it this game, albeit it is a characteristic that has plagued him on the US *cough*

          Man I should get that cough taken care of.

          • Dan in New York says:

            Along with the PK, Dempsey’s the one who laid the ball out on silver platter so Cameron could head it home.

          • APK says:

            I don’t think any of those guys on the field are “phoning it in.” They’re just not good enough and I say with all due respect.

    • skyman says:

      I thought the same thing: he was holding back tears.

      The guy is an anomaly, in that he has the skill of an upper level latino, yet grew up in the US. How did that happen? Just look at what he did in 10 minutes. He made some short passes, one long pass that shows he has vision, and a beautiful chip in the box ala MB. His soccer IQ is off the charts, which just doesn’t happen too often with an American player.

      • Old School says:

        Well, he did come up in the Texas area.

        I know Dempsey credits his flair to playing with/against Latino’s growing up in Texas. Although, I’m a firm believer that flair is innate and you either have it or you don’t…your competition definitely has an impact on your skill/style.

    • ed - houston says:

      It’s funny you mentioned that because many pics i’ve seen of Stu in action, over the years, looks like he is about to cry. I guess its a facial feature, at times, of his. Hope he stays healthy.

    • TomG says:

      The only real lack of hustle in the match was by Cameron and OG on the first goal. They both stopped running and just ball watched when they got beat.

      • Old School says:

        Goodson too. He was caught ball watching as well.

        • chris_thebassplayer says:

          Yep, Goodson on the first goal was day dreaming…he needed to cover the goal quickly with Howard out…he reacted so late.

    • APK says:

      I don’t think any of those guys on the field are “phoning it in.” They’re just not good enough and I say with all due respect.

  3. Old School says:

    Fairly impossible to not cheer for this guy.

  4. Beto says:

    Go STU! Glad to have him back

    Major props to bolton for holding on to him during the entire process.

  5. SanFran415 says:

    Disco Stu!

    Get your form back kid and… the frosted tips!

  6. Ryan nanez says:

    Somewhere Charlie Davies is sitting in a corner rocking back and forth with a year shedding from his eye

  7. ATX_Colin says:

    Speaking of Charlie Davis, I was thinking about him and the USMNT at this time last world cup cycle (about to embark on the confed s cup). My first thoughts were of a startling lack of growth and progress. That team was based around a midfield of Donavon, Deuce, Bradley and an attacking duo of Jozy and Davies. 4 years later our midfield (if we are being honest) should still revolve around deuce, Donavon, Deuce and Bradley and our striker situation has gotten worse. We have never found a player to pair with Jozy that worked as well as Davies. His ability to make runs and stretch the D was invaluable. Its obvious Jozy needs a partner but Im not sure we have a forward in the pool that would be a good fit.

    Long story short, 4 years ago we had pretty much the same midfield, a better forward pool, and a more consistent backline. Now we have a similar midfield core, albeit older in a few spots, a young backline searching for consistency, and little to nothing in terms of production from forwards.

    Have we made any progress in 4 years???????????

    • Elite Hunting says:

      We got rid of a coach that knew how to get the best from the players he had and replaced him with a coach that is a zero with Jogi Loew. Klinnsmann’s two years have hardly been stellar. There’s a reason he was dumped by Bayern Munich … he’s in way over his head.

      • HoboMike says:

        Not to pick nits here, but Loew hasn’t set the world on fire since taking over the German team. That may sound odd given that they’ve reached the semi-finals of the last three major tournaments, but Germany is by far the most talented squad on Earth, and you could argue that Loew was the sole reason they lost to Italy in the Euros by completely changing the game plan before the semis.

      • SanFran415 says:

        He was dumped by Bayern because Uli didn’t want to hand over control. You know how many coaches Uli has fired in the last decade?

        Bayern has had 9 coaches since 2004. 9. Oh yeah, so much to do with Klinsmann.

        • Paul R says:

          Well, he’s fired 4 of those 9. The rest left on their own accord, were interim managers, etc.

          And there was a control issue, sure. But Klinsi also was tactically inept, lost the players and his one winter signing was a certain Landon Donovan who flopped badly.

          He was exposed at Bayern. Anyone who paid attention that season could see it. Which says a lot about Gulati and all the US soccer journos dancing in the street when he was hired.

    • RP says:

      Charlie emerged in the last group game of the confed. After Bradley had been trying again and again with different combinations (Ching). He was given his chance due to injury and desperation.

      We need something similar out this desperation.

      • GW says:

        “ RP says: Charlie emerged in the last group game of the confed. After Bradley had been trying again and again with different combinations (Ching). He was given his chance due to injury and desperation.We need something similar out this desperation.”

        You make it sound like Davies was some kind of happy accident that BB stumbled upon.

        It wasn’t exactly like that.

        Charlie had been groomed by Bradley since 2007 when they sent him to Copa America.

        Charlie was on that Confederations Cup team because he had gotten red hot in Sweden towards the end of 2008 and the early part of 2009. Ching was not there because he got hurt in a WC Qualifier just before the Confederations Cup.

        In WC qualifiers just before the Confederations Cup, Ching, Casey, Davies and Altidore were the forward rotation.

  8. Jon says:

    Just another awesome product of the Dynamo!

  9. beachbum says:

    ALL of us pulling for Stu!

  10. fan of football says:

    Love this guy – even when running around the field in a practice jersey he finds a way to give you a thumbs up!

    Excited to have him back with the team. Hopefully his return stays the course

  11. Cincyred says:

    Awesome for Clemson Stu. Phoning it in? Dempsey phones it in each time the stakes or spotlight are not bright enough. He is looking forward to the game on Sunday against Germany. He did not want to get hurt last night against Belguim, so he went thru the motions for large portions of the game. I have noticed this quite often from him. I would stop bringing him in for friendlies, as it is a waste of everyone’s time.

  12. solles says:

    …and Nigel de Jong got to play something like 75 games in the time Holden was unable to play.