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Holden's unique talents will be missed this summer
by Paul Kennedy, March 23rd, 2011 12:37AM

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TAGS:  americans abroad, england, gold cup, men's national team

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[MY VIEW] Stuart Holden's bad luck continued as he was taken out in a nasty tackle for the second time in the space of a year. It was an unfortunate setback for one of the few Americans to achieve success in an attacking role in midfield at a big European club.

The history of American midfielders in Europe is for them to take on or be moved into secondary roles.

That was the case of John Harkes in the early 1990s when he moved to England and played at Sheffield Wednesday.

Claudio Reyna was a playmaker for the USA but he played as a wide midfielder or defender through much of his career in Germany, Scotland and England.

John O'Brien was another playmaker, teaming up with Reyna in the U.S. midfield at the 2002 World Cup, where the Americans reached the quarterfinals, but he was used mostly at left back at Ajax.

More recently, Michael Bradley was an attacking force at Dutch club Heerenveen -- a smaller club in a lesser league -- but he is now considered a holding midfielder.

Along with Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones, Bradley gives his father, U.S. coach Bob Bradley, a plethora of holding midfielders but he few options at attacking midfielder.

But Holden, ruled out for six months with a knee injury sustained in a challenge with Manchester United's Jonny Evans on Saturday, seemed to be a different, a player like Clint Dempsey whose attacking instincts blossomed rather than regressed when he moved to Europe.

The emergence of the central midfield pairing of Holden and Frenchman Fabrice Muamba was a key factor on Bolton Wanderers' rise to the top third of the English Premier League this season.

There is nothing to say Holden can't overcome the latest obstacle in a pro career that was almost derailed before it began when he was viciously attacked outside a Newcastle nightclub. But he will have to start over for a third time.

Just as he had to basically do without Holden at the 2010 World Cup, Bob Bradley won't have Holden at the 2011 Gold Cup, and he will have to rethink his plans for the U.S. midfield that could have used Holden very nicely in the middle of the field.



0 comments
  1. Eric Shinn
    commented on: March 23, 2011 at 8:12 a.m.
    Holden definitely will be missed by the team, as well as by the fans. I'm taking my daughter to her first ever USMNT game in Tampa this summer, and really wanted her to get to see the hard-working Stu-brah. Here's hoping he can return better than ever and continue setting an example for the next generation of American players.
  1. . Lev
    commented on: March 23, 2011 at 8:41 a.m.
    Twice in one year.. Unlucky or reckless/clumsy? Only time will tell, but players at this level need to be good enough to anticipate a potentially hazardous contact situation and know to be smart enough to look after themselves. Yes, it's the more physical EPL (no US players would make it in Spain). But they are professionals. Ever wonder why van Persie or Berbatov rarely get seriously hurt - there is no lack of players seeking contact with them.. In the car-world its called defensive driving. Wishing SH a very speedy recovery with many good years ahead of him!
  1. Jim Murphy
    commented on: March 23, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
    What was the story behind the nightclub attack? I don't remember hearing anything about that?
  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: March 24, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
    Well first @ Lev... Holden's leg was broken from BEHIND by DeJong in the match last year in Amsterdam, very little you can do if the other player clatters into you from BEHIND and snaps your leg... it should have been a direct Red card and that isn't the first time DeJong has done this sort of thing ...nor the last time as he's since broken yet another player's leg not to mention getting a mere Yellow in the World Cup final when he planted his boot dead center in a player's chest WHILE THAT PLAYER WAS STANDING UPRIGHT!!! ... so long as this type of player is allowed to continue to play like this... other players will continue to be injured and this sort of fouling seems to be more prevalent in the EPL where Holden was injured... was he at fault for not pulling out of this latest incident? Maybe... but the Netherlands match was entirely DeJong's fault and that is the truth. Oh and what's this malarkey about van Persie rarely getting hurt? He's a great Striker... but he has often been hurt and nearly was cut over his fitness last Spring when the Dutch were preparing their squad. (ICE)

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