Stuart Holden, to borrow some phrasing from ‘The Wire’, ain’t got no luck at all. Late Monday afternoon U.S. soccer fans bracing for the worst got just that: Holden has a torn ACL in his right knee as revealed by his club team Bolton.
The slight irony here is Holden survived playing on the shoddy temporary grass laid over the turf at Cowboys Stadium, only to fall victim to a random knee knock vs. Panama that caused him to plant wrong and tear up his knee once again Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
The latest set back will severely torpedo Holden’s chances for the 23-man U.S. roster for next summer’s World Cup. The 27-year-old spent close to 28 months on the sidelines due to two separate knee injuries as the result of challenges, first from Nigel de Jong in 2010 and later Jonny Evans in early 2011 which required multiple surgeries. Holden’s bad luck extends beyond his knee, after signing for Sunderland in 2006 he was jumped while waiting for a taxi and suffered a broken eye socket.
With the National Team on a record 11-game winning streak, Holden’s return seemed to be a feel-good, cherry-on-top. When healthy Holden profiled as a player who could complement Michael Bradley in the midfielder, presenting a more elegant alternative to destroyer Jermaine Jones. Perhaps that’s projecting by hopeful American fans. Holden did look good initially in the Gold Cup, but as the tournament wore on he seemed a little less sharp on the ball and a step slow.
There’s no fault in pulling for Holden, who quickly became a fan-favorite with the Houston Dynamo before moving to Bolton in 2010.
— Stuart Holden (@stuholden) July 29, 2013
Sadly, as many across the web have already noted, Holden looks like he’ll go down as this decade’s John O’Brien, another great technical talent who couldn’t stay on the field. The well-regarded Claudio Reyna grappled with injuries throughout his international career that spanned four World Cups. Injuries limited him to playing in a single American victory — the 2-0 win over Mexico in 2002 — over that stretch.
Injuries are always a major storyline going into a World Cup year. U.S. fans would be wise to keep their fingers crossed for the next 10-odd months.