Stuart Holden isn’t one to complain. But if he did, one could understand his frustration.
Holden recently underwent his third knee operation in the past three years.
Just when it looked like he was ready to return to full speed for the U.S. Men’s National Team, he fell to the turf at Chicago’s Soldier Field, clutching his knee.
It happened in the first half of the Gold Cup final, a game the U.S. would win 1-0 with Holden on the sidelines. Later a MRI confirmed what most suspected, and Holden probably knew. He had a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
A bad break for a player who had worked so hard to get back on the field.
His first serious knee injury came in a March 2011 game with Bolton, his professional club in England on a hard tackle by Manchester United’s Jonny Evans.
Last fall he returned to play with Bolton, but after a game against Aston Villa, he had to have a followup surgery. Another setback.
His rehab lasted through the winter and finally in January he began getting some minutes with the Wanderers.
Surgery on an ACL takes time to recover. Whether or not Holden will be ready before the final rosters are announced for next year’s World Cup 2014 in Brazil is anybody’s guess.
“We are absolutely devastated for Stuart,” said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who had given Holden the start at midfield against Panama.
It is likely that there will not be enough time for Holden to recover in time to make the 23-player roster. At age 28, should Holden miss the World Cup in Brazil, he is young enough for the next one in 2018.
He not only would be missed on the field, he would be missed as a teammate, and as a leader in the locker room.
Holden is confident he will return to action. After all, he always has. “I will rise again!”, he tweeted after the surgery. “Big love and thanks to all.”
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