Luckless U.S. international Stuart Holden popped up at his old Texas home over the weekend, encouraging the Houston Dynamo in the MLS club’s playoff series opener against New York.
Soon enough, however, the Bolton midfielder will be back in England and nearer to a return with Championship side Bolton FC. That’s according to manager Dougie Freedman, who says the U.S. midfielder should return to training at the Reebok Stadium in the “early part of the year.”
Freedman says he has remained in contact with the player over the phone and that Holden remains in good spirits. Then again, when has that not been the case with Holden? His capacity to remain positive through repeated, maddening injury frustration seems nothing short of inspirational.
What Freedman told the official club site about Holden, whose latest injury setback was a severe knee injury suffered in late June with the national team:
“I’m in contact with Stuart and he’s doing well. We do know he is set to come back over here in the near future. We’re expecting to see him just before Christmas.
“We obviously need to make sure that his comeback isn’t rushed and that everything is okay. When he comes back he’s going to spend a month or so with us so that we can make sure that the rehabilitation is being done in the right way. The plan then is for over the Christmas period and into January he’ll head back over to the States to make sure that the guys who are doing his rehab are fully up to speed.
“Then when he’s at a good level hopefully we can look at reintroducing him to training into the early part of the year.”
Before any of the good citizens of U.S. Soccer Supporter Valley begin doing the math here, counting weeks and months from “early next year” until Brazil, take a deep breath.
Holden’s chances of making Jurgen Klinsmann roster are remote at best. That’s certainly no comment on the man’s resolve, his commitment to timely recovery or his ability. It’s just reality. It’s just that he’s so far from being able to contribute to his club team. Once he does that, he’s still a considerable distance from being able to contribute at an international level.
He’s been away from a good run of full-time soccer since March of 2011. (What Holden did this summer, joining up with the national team but still not playing with any week-to-week rhythm, fell short of classification as “good run of full-time soccer.” Same with the spring loan spell to Sheffield Wednesday, where Holden made four appearances.)
I’ve written before and stand by it: the guy really needs to focus on putting his professional career back on track. Any efforts to push the recovery time table on the outside chance of getting into Klinsmann’s 23 for the World Cup seems imprudent and probably implausible. At 28, Holden could still put together a meaningful career in England (or elsewhere), and that’s got to be his priority for now.