Bad news struck an all-around good guy today in a way that, in another situation, would have seemed almost comical. Bolton and U.S. national team midfielder Stuart Holden is out for six months, according to his club. The initial reports had him out for only six weeks after a routine exam of his healing knee, but further tests showed extensive unhealed cartilage damage in the knee.
Holden was an up-and-coming player for both the national team and Bolton Wanderers in the Barclays Premier League before injuries began to impede his career. A broken leg in a friendly against the Netherlands robbed him of a chance to play in the 2010 World Cup and then an injured knee in a match against Manchester United not only set back his club career but has denied him a chance to play in the 2011 Gold Cup. Holden had just made his first first-team appearance since the knee injury for Bolton last week after months of recovery, but a routine follow-up on his knee today revealed his damaged cartilage had not healed.
Holden was brutally honest about the news, saying via Twitter: “Floored, devastated, gutted, just a few words I can think of. I will continue to fight and I’m ready for another tough journey…..”
The impact on Bolton is severe, as the Wanderers are currently in last place in the BPL and desperately need some talent to stay up. Sine his injury, Bolton have lost 11 of their last 15 matches and lack a creative midfield presence they desperately need. He was so well respected by his club and the supporters that he was named Bolton’s player of the season for 2010-2011 despite missing the last two months. But MLS Talk fans obviously are concerned about his future with the U.S. national team. Jurgen Klinsmann had already been keeping an eye on the midfielder during his recovery and, according to Brian Straus, said “We’ve obviously been keeping a close eye on him since his injury because he’s not only a fantastic player but a great person. He’s getting closer and closer, but I’m not looking to get him in United States squad as soon as possible.” The fact is the new manager needs to see exactly what he has in the U.S. talent pool and with so much uncertainty Holden had a good chance to fight for a starting job on the national team.
According to the announced timeline, Holden will be back to contribute to World Cup 2012 qualifying if he is named to the team (which I expect him to be). That said, knee problems could linger and certainly place his future in some doubt. USMNT fans (and Bolton fans) should hope for the best and look forward to hopefully seeing Holden play again next year.