Top Stories

Holden returns for Bolton in 2-0 FA Cup win over Sunderland


It is the words all U.S. Men’s National Team fans wanted to hear: Stuart Holden is officially back.

The popular central midfielder returned to first team action for Bolton Tuesday going 16 minutes in a 2-0 win over EPL side Sunderland in an FA Cup replay. The quarter-hour plus was the first time the midfielder has seen since appearing in a League Cup match April 20th, 2012 against Aston Villa, which prompted surgery on his knee just eight days later.

Holden, who signed with Bolton in 2010 after starring with the Houston Dynamo, has been on the slow road to recovery since initially injuring the knee in March of 2011 when he was on the receiving end of a Jonny Evans tackle. Since, Holden has gone back and forth between the US and England to get the proper rehab for his knee.

The midfielder has been making significant progress since the beginning of the year, highlighted by 65 minutes in reserve league action last week.

That performance was enough to enticed boss Dougie Freedman to include him in FA action. With the successful appearance behind him, the next step is for Holden to get back into the team on a full-time basis as the Wanderers look to climb back into the English top flight.

Encouraged by Holden’s progress? Are you ready to earmark a Gold Cup spot for him already? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


  1. How does something with subject/verb disagreements get published on a “professional” blog?

    “It is the words” should be “These are the words”

    “to enticed” should be “to entice” or simply “enticed”

    Welcome back, Stuey. I’m really happy for him. However, I’m not getting excited over 16 minutes in an FA cup match.

    • What’s even more amusing is the fact that, having been posted the following day, it wasn’t even a “breaking news” story that they needed to get up quickly.

    • You know, I didn’t even think about it until the comment in the post asking “are you ready to earmark a Gold Cup spot for him already?” but actually the timing on that seems perfect if he’s back in regular first team action over the next several months. The Gold Cup squad would be a nice way to ease him back into the mix.

      • I really disagree with that. I can see how people recognize that this year’s Gold Cup is a low pressure tournament where we can test out our fringe players, but I don’t believe Stu should be included.

        The best thing for him will be a full preseason to prepare and really push for a starting 11 spot next season. I know we all love Stu and would love to see him back in the national team mix, but long term I don’t think the Gold Cup is the best idea for his career.

      • Just want to clarify that I did mention “if he’s back in regular first team action”…If he’s still needing to fight for a starting spot with Bolton in the fall, he’s not ready for Gold Cup. If summer rolls around and he’s consistently shown well for a couple months already, I think Gold Cup could be in the cards.

      • I see what you are saying, but I guess I favor a more cautious approach given his injury troubles. I think a full preseason will best prepare him for the next campaign. If he’s starting and playing well next season he would presumably get a shot to work his way into the crowded midfield.

        Suppose he goes to the gold cup, misses preseason, and loses out on a starting spot or (worst case) gets injured. How does he work his way into the mix if he is having trouble starting for his club?

        This is obviously all hypothetical since he hasn’t even seen time in the league yet and has such a long way to go before we can even consider him. I am just more on the cautious side of the debate.

      • I would be careful about assuming the Gold Cup is going to be a series of low stress Sunday afternoon in the park matches.

        The US will play six qualifiers before the first Gold Cup game in July. Chances are there will be very few openings on the 23 man roster for the World Cup by then, particularly in midfield. And Donovan, who I suspect will be back, will most likely have announced his intentions by then.

        So it may be that the candidates for those few spots will be under enormous pressure in the Gold Cup.

        Holden will get back into the running for a World Cup spot based on his club performances for Bolton or someone else.

        He needs to excel for them first. If he does that everything else will fall into place.

    • I didn’t. Scanned the Wanderers message boards briefly. Apparently, he had a couple of giveaways and seemed a bit rusty to them, but regardless of how he looked in a VERY limited sampling, they’re ecstatic to have him back.

      • Same impression I got. I’ll just add that on the forum I perused the posters seemed to really enjoy when Stu fouled the opposing player. Lots of “Atta boy, Stu!” and similar comments. Rusty, sure, but he threw himself into the game 100%, which speaks well of his confidence and how he’s feeling physically.

        I’ll also throw in that he came on for the waning moments of a cup game where his team was up by two goals. So he didn’t enter into a tense atmosphere where he was expected to make a large contribution, but rather he just saw the game out.

  2. As we considered CM’s for the Nats moving forward, I didn’t include Stu in my thinking because he wasn’t healthy. Now that he is playing again, and with enough league play left this season for him to get sharp, I cannot wait for him to be ready for the USMNT. All along, a healthy Stu would have been included in JK’s midfield plan (with MB and a third). A box to box CM with offensive tendencies, along with MB’s play box to box play, would be exactly what our offense needs.

    With no set-backs, when will he be included? March for a cameo appearance as a late offensive sub? April for a more comprehensive role? June for the Gold Cup? Or will he just be overlooked by JK?

  3. More like the Wanderer’s effort to avoid relegation to League 1. They’re a lot closer to the bottom then the top of the Championship table.

    • Agreed! I hope US fans and Bolton fans back off him for a little bit. Let him get bit parts for the next month and make sure he doesn’t relapse again. We were here last year so let’s be patient.

      However, it feels great to see him back out there so soon. A lot on here, including the writers, venomously dismissed his chances of donning the shirt again until Spring. Holden has surprised us all.

      I also don’t want to see him in a US shirt until the Gold Cup. He needs his rest between games and we aren’t desperate in CM. His long term fitness is key and Klinsi seems to understand this – thankfully.


Leave a Comment