Stuart Holden is the most unlucky American soccer player around. In fact he could be one of the more unfortunate athletes on the planet. Last summer, after missing nearly two years of his career to multiple knee injuries, he featured for the U.S. National Team during its run to winning the Gold Cup.
Instead of the triumph turning into an exclamation point on his long road back from injury, the final vs. Panama proved to be another nightmare for Holden as he torn up the ACL in his knee — again. In the summer the injury appeared to slam the door shut on Holden’s 2014 World Cup hopes. There weren’t any guarantees Holden would be included in Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans for Brazil, but he was at least an option for minutes in the midfield. (Of course were Holden a defender or striker his absence would be even more crushing.)
Tuesday Holden, 28, trained (in a limited capacity) with the U.S. National Team in Los Angeles. He’s not cleared for all activities, but it’s another step in the right direction for the hard-luck midfielder, who is clearly beloved by his teammates and was carried on their shoulders during the Gold Cup victory lap.
Holden still faces a long road back to fitness to work his way back into the lineup at Bolton, which now resides in the English second division. In 2010 a tackle from Nigel de Jong broke his leg then in 2011 a hard (read: dirty) challenge from Manchester United’s Jonny Evans blew out his ACL, costing him almost two years of his career.
At the very least, he’s making progress, enough progress to post an update of his rehab on Instagram. After injury No. 3 few would have faulted Holden had he opted to call it a career, but as he wrote on Monday afternoon quitting wasn’t an option:
5.5 months ago I was devastated when I found out I’d torn my ACL in the Gold Cup final. As I’m getting ready to have my final check-ups and Clearance from my Docs and PTs, I took some time to reflect. I was thinking about all the hard work I’ve put in over the last few months and the people that have helped me get to this point. Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. I’m looking forward to one final push and getting back out there on the pitch where I belong. Let’s do this!
As good as he might be at soccer, Holden might be even better at social media. That is perhaps the more elaborate Instagram video I’ve ever seen posted on the photo (and now video) service. Holden’s a good follow, too, with plenty of pictures alongside his model/yoga instructor girlfriend Karalyn West, including this funny shot when the couple picked sides during the BCS Championship Game.
Holden making the United States’ 23-man roster for Brazil is a decided longshot, but it’s a longshot worth rooting for.
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