ARLINGTON, Texas – For Stuart Holden, the game is indeed “slowing down” as he builds the minutes on the field.
That’s not a bad thing. That’s the way players describe the sensation as a fast paced sport “slows down” and becomes more manageable, the next pass seen sooner, the supporting movement more instinctive, the ability to manage the chaos in tight quarters improving.
During the ongoing Gold Cup, Holden is getting his most extensive use in almost two years. I spoke to Holden on Tuesday from inside Cowboys Stadium, where he and the rest of this United States national team version prepped for Wednesday’s semifinal contest against Honduras just outside of Dallas.
“I know it’s an old cliché about the game slowing down, but that was the biggest sign for me, when I had the confidence to start trying things, hitting longer passes, starting to try to get forward more,” Holden said.
Here’s what else the versatile U.S. midfielder, whose long recovery bid is backed by so many interested U.S. Soccer supporters, had to say:
Q: You played against Guatamala before the tournament and then in the first three Gold Cup matches. So were you a bit disappointed not to get on the field for Sunday’s quarterfinal?
Obviously I want to play in every game. But it’s a long tournament and we have shared the minutes around. The guys that played on Sunday had a great result and played really well and obviously now I hope I’ll get a chance to play against Honduras.”
Q: How would you evaluate your tournament so far?
I think it’s been a really good tournament for me in terms of getting my confidence, getting some good minutes under my belt. I feel like I’ve improved with each game, paying some as a sub, and other games as a starter. It’s all about getting into a rhythm again, getting that weekly feeling of playing every week, playing every game, just topping off the tank and really feeling that my fitness is at a great level now.
“My goal is to leave this tournament on a high, hopefully winning the thing and being in great shape to have a great season [with Bolton] this year.”
Q: How has the knee responded so far during the tournament?
I’m in touch with my Bolton [medical trainer] and he is always asking me about the knee, I said to him, ‘I don’t even think about it now.’ For me, that really has been a great thing. After practice I don’t look at it, I don’t think about icing it straight away. I’m just thinking towards the next game, I’m not thinking about how my knee is going to feel, so that’s been a great feeling.”