Direct from San Diego

Stuart Holden Focuses on His U.S. Present and Future

Free from injury and reacquainted with the national team, the golden-haired midfielder is eager to make a positive impact in the 2013 Gold Cup. ASN's Jon Arnold caught up with Holden in San Diego.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
July 05, 2013
3:16 PM
SAN DIEGO—It’s easy to see why Stuart Holden is beloved by U.S. soccer fans.

Holden has displayed resiliency coming back from two major injuries that have kept him out for extended periods. Prior to those injuries, his ability to both maintain possession and create in the attacking zone thrilled American supporters. And then there’s that smile. But whether you like Holden for how he looks on the field or off it, there’s little doubt that he’s enjoying himself.

Being back in the national team fold is “a feeling of happiness,” Holden said after training Thursday.

“It’s a good team. You always want to be a part of the national team as a player being at your club. Then, when you finally get to the national team, you’re excited, you’re ready to contribute, and you’re ready to represent your country. I think there’s no higher honor in soccer, and I’m looking forward to hopefully many more games with the national team.”

To do that, he’ll have to stay healthy—something that hasn’t happened for Holden, who had consecutive knee injuries that kept him off the field for the majority of two seasons. Being called back into the team for the Gold Cup gives Holden a chance not only to show that he’s back to full fitness but also to prove he still has the skills he did before his injuries.

“I think it’s a big opportunity for me,” he said. “If I get the chance, I’m going to go out there and show I deserve to be an important player for this team. And for the first team going forward. It’s a tournament that is going to be against some different types of opponents and we always have to make sure we dig down and get the results that we need.”

Opponents range from Belize, a team making its first appearance in the tournament and debuting against the powerhouse Yanks, to clubs like Mexico and Honduras, who bring players with experience in some of the world’s most prestigious leagues and tournaments.

Against opposition fearsome and weak, manager Jurgen Klinsmann always insists on players understanding their roles. Holden’s ability to both go forward and to sit back could prove beneficial against the diverse clubs the U.S. will face in the continental championship.

His role within the club? “I think as a two-way midfielder to kind of keep the shape of the team, but at the same time try to get forward and create some stuff as we look to attack and score some goals,” Holden said. “Hopefully I’ll play an important role as we go through the Gold Cup.”

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