By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com
Stuart Holden’s humbling road through injury-enforced wilderness took an unexpected comedic turn when he entered the United States’ 6-0 victory over Guatemala on Friday night.
Holden – a player of considerable repute with Olympic, Premier League and World Cup experience on his CV – heard the public address announcer mangle his name when he entered at the start of the second half.
“Stacy Holden? You try not to hear that stuff in the game, but when it was announced, it was hard not to laugh,” Holden said. “I was thinking, he’d better correct it. The guys were laughing about it. I heard him re-announce it.”
Holden then followed suit regarding his own international credentials with an encouraging display of his quality and his range in central midfield. His clever, inch-perfect service on Landon Donovan’s second goal captured the most attention, but his overall performance – adroit in possession, robust in his tackling, tidy in his positioning – showed the progress made over the past few months.
“I thought he was fantastic,” Donovan said. “He was calm on the ball. He tackled when he needed to. His service was great. His passing was excellent. I thought he was really good. I think we can all agree that it’s as good as he’s been since he’s been back playing. I’m really happy.”
The trick for Holden now: turning one good night into a series of influential Gold Cup showings over the next month. He faces a fight to earn playing time in the center of the park with Kyle Beckerman, Mikkel Diskerud and José Francisco Torres and push his claims for more than a handful of substitute appearances.
“If I didn’t I was 90 minutes ready and Jurgen didn’t think I was 90 minutes ready, then I don’t think I’d be a part of this group,” Holden said. “If I’m out there in the game, I’m hoping to play 90 minutes. As a competitor, you’re always a little bit bummed out because you want to be on the field and involved in every single play. I can guarantee that if I’m out there, I’ll give everything I’ve got.”
And if he meets his previous standards once more and reclaim his place in the full team, he can rest assured no one will forget his name.