In what seems to be a never ending repeat occurrence, Bolton Wanderers and USMNT midfielder Stuart Holden has suffered ligament damage to his right knee, and will be out 6-9 months after undergoing surgery. The injury is another setback in a career full of them, and leaves Holden with virtually no chance of ever appearing in an international match again.
By the time that Holden returns to the pitch he will have gone four years without playing a full season of football, with leg injuries being the sole reason why.
The injury cycle began in an international match in March 2010 when a nasty tackle from Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong left Holden with a broken leg, although he did recover enough to make one appearance at the World Cup. After this the injuries only worsened, as in March 2011 a tackle from Manchester United defender Johnny Evans left Holden needing two surgeries to his left knee within eight days. This cycle kept Holden out for most of the next two years, although he did recover well enough last spring to earn a spot on the 2013 Gold Cup roster, where he subsequently tore his right ACL.
Holden will turn 29 years old this August, and will likely be left with little to no cartilage in either or his knees upon returning to the field. One can only harken up images of former Tottenham defender Ledley King suffering through not practicing all week and making it through 20 matches a year to see what Holden looks destined for. It isn’t that this is a bad place to be for a normal person, but it certainly isn’t conducive to an international career.
Thankfully enough for Holden both Bolton Wanderers and the USMNT have been very patient in his recovery, but at some point this is going to run out. For Bolton the reasoning is that they are still paying him a weekly salary, and as a team that is stuck in Championship mid-table purgatory it is hard to pay a guy that isn’t bringing anything to the table, and has surely seen his best days gone by.
The USMNT isn’t paying Holden a salary, but they have a keen eye towards the fact that his best days have passed, and there is virtually no chance he will ever be able to play multiple games in a week ever again. This means he has almost no use in international tournaments, and leaves Jurgen Klinsmann in the precarious position of moving on from a player that has been the very epitome of heart and determination.