Stuart Holden

Stuart Holden on his first Sheffield Wednesday appearance


Stuart Holden was held out of Sheffield Wednesday’s lineup Monday, the victim of that ridiculously jammed-up schedule in the physically demanding English second tier.

The Bolton man was signed on a month-long loan to Sheffield Wednesday late last week, and the Owls got Holden right into their lineup. The U.S. international worked his way through 62 minutes Saturday in a huge win over local rival Barnsley.

Holden was stationed as central midfielder, assigned to play slightly higher than his central partner in the Owls’ 4-4-2.

He says he came through wonderfully, physically. Trouble was, the Owls of Sheffield Wednesday had just one full day of rest before their next match, Monday’s clash with Bristol City. The contest finished in a 1-1 draw; Holden was not named to the squad, which wasn’t too surprising.

Here’s what Holden said on Soccer Today (disclosure: it’s a radio show I co-host along with Marc Stein) on Sunday, just hours after making his first appearance for Wednesday. Holden had played a scattering of minutes for Bolton since returning from that extended injury absence six weeks ago but was ecstatic getting into the action for Wednesday, which is desperate to stave off relegation into England’s third tier.

Holden’s first contest for his new (temporary) club wasn’t just any old night, either, but a derby match for Sheffield Wednesday.

I feel great today. Nothing is like playing in a local derby game, running around, making a few challenges, getting up and down the pitch. To be able to come through that, that feeling of doing that, it makes you feel like a footballer again, that you really are back and that everything is great.

Holden then hinted that perhaps it wasn’t prudent to follow up so quickly, but noted that he was willing and certainly able if management asked:

We’ve spoken before, the gaffer here. We sat down and we spoke to me and said I need to be honest with him, to let him know how I’m feeling through this process, for it to be more of a give and take. Obviously, I don’t know that playing two games over three days is the best thing … but I certainly feel like I could do it. It’s going to be a decision that’s up to the manager.

Sheffield Wednesday takes the field again on Saturday, at home against Blackburn.

The full Holden interview is here, starting at about the 14-minute mark of the hour-long show.

How will USMNT line up vs. Mexico in CONCACAF Cup?

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You probably don’t need reminding, but just in case you do, the U.S. national team face Mexico in a huge one-off CONCACAF Cup game on Saturday at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

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The winner will represent CONCACAF at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia as Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT side are the underdogs against El Tri.

With plenty of struggles and a hangover from the 2015 Gold Cup failure, Klinsmann is under pressure and getting his team selection spot on will be crucial if the USA are going to get past Mexico in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl.

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Below I suggest three possible starting lineups, then give my conclusion on how I think the U.S. will lineup.

Let us know if you agree by posting your own lineups in the comments section below.

Klinsmann’s choice

—– Guzan —–

— Johnson — Cameron — Besler — Ream —

Jones —– Bradley

— Bedoya — Dempsey — Zardes —

—– Altidore —–

Mix-and-match XI

—– Howard —–

— Cameron — Besler — Ream — Beasley —

—– Williams —–

— Yedlin — Bradley — Zusi —

— Altidore — Zardes —

Stopping Mexico

—– Howard —–

— Johnson — Besler — Ream — Beasley —

—– Cameron —–

— Dempsey — Williams — Bradley — Jones —

— Altidore —


I think Klinsmann’s choice is the way to go, although Tim Howard‘s presence in goal over Brad Guzan would certainly help strengthen the USA’s defense. A center back pairing of Cameron and Besler must happen, while having Johnson in at right back will be a boost and Ream’s size may see him get the nod over Beasely. In midfield I’d go with Jones and Bradley sitting in front of othe back four and then that would allow, Zardes, Bedoya and Dempsey to support Altidore up top.

The final selection is ultra-defensive, but given the form of his team and Mexico’s attacking talents, Klinsmann may start more defensive and then change tact as the game goes on. Having all of your most-experienced players on the pitch will prove vital to succeeding at the Rose Bowl, therefore, even though the Mix-and-Match XI looks speedy and is dangerous, I’d expect to see “Klinsmann’s choice” or “Stopping Mexico” to be more like the starting lineup on Saturday.

“Legends World Cup” hope to bring Beckham, Zidane to Mexico

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David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane coaxed out of retirement to play in a “Legends World Cup” you say?

Well, that got my attention.

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According to an interview with the BBC’s world service, the organizers of the 2017 Legends World Cup are hoping to entice both Becks and Zizou to roll back the years and represent their nations in Mexico.

Beckham, 40, and Zidane, 43, are already putting their boots back on to captain a Great Britain and Ireland XI vs. a World XI for a friendly at Old Trafford on November 14 to raise money for UNICEF, and former Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos, 48, has urged the duo to take part in the tournament in 2017 where he will coach Mexico’s team.

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From the BBC:

“I want to see Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Brazilian Ronaldo,” said Campos, 48, the flamboyant ex-Mexico goalkeeper who will coach his country.

“Everybody wants to see Argentina’s Diego Maradona, but he can’t play. He’s too old.”

The tournament is scheduled to take place at the beginning of 2017, with 12 teams in total — four from the Americas, six from Europe and one each from Africa and Asia — taking part.

Given the age (players must be aged between 35-45) and caliber of the players Campos and Co. are trying to recruit, let’s have a think about who would play for the U.S.

Landon Donovan and Brian McBride up front? Brad Friedel in goal? Let us know who would make the squad.