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Holden plays 65 minutes in Bolton reserve game

Stuart Holden has continued his progress toward a return to first-team action for Bolton.

Holden played 65 minutes for Bolton’s developmental squad in a 3-0 reserve match victory against Oldham on Tuesday. The match marked the latest bit of progress for the 27-year-old Holden, who also recently played in an indoor game for Bolton.

Assuming the midfielder suffers no setbacks in his recovery from two knee surgeries, Holden could return to full fitness by the end of the month.

What do you think of Holden playing in today’s match vs. Oldham? When do you expect to see him on Bolton’s gameday roster?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I honestly wouldn’t be so hyped about this return if it were anybody but Stu we were talking about here. While this is surely the longest hiatus the kid has been on in his whole career, Holden has always shown incredible heart in the way he plays. He seems to come back stronger every time, and I have no doubt in my mind that our boy Naruto will do it again.

  2. Imagine if we were at full strength at the 2010 world cup, 100% Holden and 100% Davies…two accidents that should not have happen that kept us from beating Ghana

    • Assuming Holden and Davies had not gotten injured and assuming they maintained their best form up until today ( a big IF in Davies case) Bob Bradley might still be manager.

      Go down that path a bit and think about what that would mean.

      • Are you saying that firing Bradley would be more important to you than advancing past the round of 16 at the World Cup? Wow.

      • Joamiq,

        No Joamiq, you are saying that not me. And I’m not sure why you think that.

        It’s pretty clear that if the US had gotten past Ghana, BB’s position after the World Cup would have been stronger than it was.

        On the other hand what if Uruguay had torn the US apart?

        Ghana were tough and they had home continent advantage and I’m not sure the crowd would have adopted the US.

        BB’s position might been strong enough to withstand losing the Gold Cup final but it’s also possible that the USSF was going to go that way regardless.

        It was a humiliating loss and the USSF was always ambivalent about BB.

        We’ll probably never know but it’s possible that the USMNT in terms of personnel and position in WC qualifying would not look a whole lot different.

        The main difference is nepotism would still be a hot topic.

        And, since this whole idea is based on Stu and Charlie presumably being healthy and doing well, LD would now be retired from the team with Stu as his replacement.

        I’m not so sure about Davies.

  3. This is a tad (just a tad) off-topic but it’s difficult to read about Holden’s return and not optimistically imagine what it could mean for USMNT.

    But anyway, with the emergence of some new players in the midfield pool in the last year including Zusi, Diskerud, Danny Williams and others, does anyone think we could ever see a Donovan-Dempsey pairing up top (assuming Donovan returns of course)? I’ve always felt they’re our 2 best finishers and would love to see what they can do up top together.

    I’m not an Altidore hater by the way. I just think Donovan and Dempsey are still more clinical around the goal.

    • Andy N

      Putting Donovan up front means he touches the ball less frequently and has fewer opportunities to create goal scoring chances for others.

      It also makes it hard for him to contribute defensively which he does very well.
      As far as I know the US has no one who is more reliable or better at creating chances for the US.

      David Moyes himself does not regard Donovan as a goal scorer per se and used him to create opportunities.

      Donovan played up front with McBride in 2002 and was great but they had guys like Reyna, JOB and Tony Sanneh to make things happen for them.

      Deuce and Landon up front today would be a waste.

      • If Dempsey up top produces less than Dempsey coming forward from the midfield. If those two are with the USMNT, it should be Donovan at RW, and Dempsey at LW – though Dempsey will rove around toward the center, which is fine because Johnson is mobile and will give us width on the left.

        The biggest question is who plays ACM between them. Not Bradley, not with this center defense. He and Jones will be DMs, though both will be something of attacking DMs, lol. For the most part they coordinate that well enough.

        My pick for ACM is Kljestan. He’s a polished playmaker more so than a dominating attacking middie. But that fits in fine with Dempsey and Donovan, Bradley coming up for occasional strikes, Jones coming up for occasional shots 20 feet over the crossbar, etc.

        Holden would be interesting to see as an alternative, but as someone said above, we’re a long way from that as a serious consideration.

      • I agree with both of your points. While our talent in midfield is improving, we probably would lose too much possession and creativity there by moving both Donovan and Dempsey up top. That being said, if we were able to replace their contributions, I’d love to see them both up top, even if just toward the latter stages when we need a goal.

        I like what Kljestan has done especially in the last couple years but I still feel like when playing for USMNT, he plays it a little too safe. And Bradley whenever he’s in that attacking role seems to really step up and be a threat to score. I like him there a lot.

    • My cynical two cents – Although they have combined for a few significant plays in the past, usually LD passing to Deuce, the on field chemistry is lukewarm at best. I’ve always thought their inability to play off each other was glaring and just chalked it up to their polar opposite approaches in the attacking third and their confidence in their own abilities. To say they’re competitive with each other is a vast understatement. It may never happen again, with LD in limbo, but if they’re on the field again, you can try this, count how many times Deuce passes to LD in the attacking third…you can practically do it on one hand. The relationship was so competitive it was a hinderance.

      • Mr. Spector Ns-4

        My own, less cynical, two cents is Landon has better all around “vision” than Clint and sees the possibilities for assists sooner or better than Clint does. Whether that “vision” is voluntary or involuntary I couldn’t tell you.

        The other thing is just try to count how many times you see Deuce pass to ANYONE else in the final third.

        Remember that goal he “stole” off of Bradley’s shot that was heading into goal recently?

        US fans howled at Jermaine Defoe for doing the exact same thing to Deuce. They accused Jermaine of being selfish.

        Of course Clint is selfish. Good goal scorers are required to be selfish. It is their job to let nothing , friend or foe, get in the way of making certain the ball goes in the net. That is what separates them from other players.

        And I don’t think it has anything to do with being competitive with Donovan or Bradley or anyone else per se. It’s what he does.
        JK, LD and MB90, I’m sure, understand and accept this, especially JK, arguably the greatest goal scorer ever associated with the USMNT.
        Besides, just because we, sitting at home in front of the TV or in the stands, can see someone else “better” placed for an “easier” shot, it doesn’t mean a guy like Clint or Jermaine can.

      • Though whether it is us a fans reading too much into things we know little about, I agree with Chris that Clint’s giant-sized chip on his shoulder has always seemed to manifest itself at least in small part as resentment towards Donovan’s place as the face of American soccer.

        Remember when people used to criticize Dempsey as lazy or not caring enough about USMNT? I’m glad those days are long gone at least.

      • GW,

        I appreciate the bass reference, but way too high end for me. I’m more of a Low-Fi, eighth notey pounder, which renders me, well, pretty much unemployable.

        Anyway, I agree with most of your points. I’m not trying to take the ball off Clint’s foot when he’s near the box. I completely understand the goal scorer tunnel vision. I should have said approaching the attacking third…the build up. When Deuce cuts inside or drops a little too deep into midfield, interjecting himself into a distributor role. At that point I think there are still opportunities to share the ball, especially with someone like LD, but it rarely happened. More like two dogs fighting over a bone. I don’t think JK would enjoy seeing that, especially that far away from goal, when 1-2 passes are still needed. I think JK alludes to it as playing “complicated”, holding on to the ball too long trying to do too much individually so far from the goal. In the past the only times there was any chemistry at all between Deuce and LD was in games when the chips were really down, at the point of near elimination. Those were the only times they truly came together. Anyway, It’s all moot now.

        I enjoy your posts,


      • Mr. Yamaha BB series (fairly inexpensive, PJ style),

        It is worth noting that Clint has been on the field for most of JK’s first 20 games while LD has not and, though Clint was scoring, the US has been finding goals hard to come by.

        So while you have a point about Deuce and Clint working together (and I don’t believe either one would let their ego get in the way of the greater good, at least not intentionally) the USMNT is still most dangerous when the Dynamic Duo and Mikey, who also missed some time with JK early on, are on the field together.

        Donovan , MB90 and Clint (Run All Day DMC) and, for that matter, Holden, when at their best, are all 90 minute + guys in terms of fitness and effort and all prefer to see a lot of the ball.

        As you say, sometimes it would be nice if someone slowed down and decided to play soccer.

        National teams that try to play two good players together who, at their best, do basically the same thing and play the same position (see, National team, England, Gerrard, Steven, Lampard, Frank) are not uncommon.

        There has been a lot written about trying to play Gerrard, and Lampard together. Probably the best criticism I read about it was England lacked a dominant figure, either player or manager, who would lay down the law to those two about who did what and then follow through with the consequences if they did not.

        The end result was you rarely got the kind of production one would expect from having two very good players like them on the field at the same time.

        I like to think that the USMNT in general has always been a more together team than England but that only goes so far. Of course you can never have too many good players, but, should Holden come back to form, I’d feel better about it if he wasn’t so similar to Mikey and LD. Stu never really had a chance to sort out his role on the USMNT before he got lawn mowered.

        Imagine playing bass in a band with three lead guitarists.

      • Nice! You must be a bass player. Actually I have a 69 Tele.

        I hold LD in quite high regard as a distributor. He’s the straw that stirs the drink. I like Deuce up high, near the box on the receiving end of passes. That would be the best approach…JK giving the keys to LD. We don’t know if LD is coming back, or for that matter how much Stu will be able to give, but we have never really seen much of LD and Stu on the field together. They both have vision and great passing skills, and prefer to let the ball do the work. I’m really hoping they both come back…I think they are cut out of the same cloth; their combination play would be electric…a massive boost to the nats. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I don’t think MB, LD and Stu would be competitive with each other, more like a well oiled machine.

        And I can’t ever imagine having to put up with three lead guitarists…they are exactly like diva forwards…having to deal with one is insufferable.

  4. Holden may be the exception to the rule that you generally have to be part of the squad in qualifiers to have a shot at the WC roster.

    • Nobody’s worried about Holden’s cred with the Nats, or the mental side of his game (aside from choosing the 50/50 balls he goes for more carefully).

      If, and it’s a big if, he gets back close to his previous form, he could easily be involved in the later qualifiers since he’ll have a few months of the 2013-14 season under his belt by then.

      There will be plenty of friendlies in late 2013, early 2014 for him to warm back up to international competition. The 2013 Gold Cup is probably too soon for a return, though.

      • “There will be plenty of friendlies in late 2013, early 2014”

        Maybe we’ll even schedule one against the Netherlands in March of 2014 that he could play in! It could basically be his first game back with the Nats after injury!

      • If you assume Holden gets back to his best, the problem is fitting him in with Mikey and Landon, assuming LD comes back..

        Stu at his best tends to occupy the same spaces those guys do. If you check you’ll find Stu did not play a lot of games with LD before his hiatus so that will need to be worked out.

      • Brain Guy,

        You are correct.

        It’s rare for the US because the talent pool is thin enough that all the bushes are thoroughly beaten by the time the HEX rolls around.

        It’s not so rare with the big boys because they always have new talent popping up. Their best players usually play such heavy schedules that injury is often a big variable. Plus they can also afford to rest injured stars through qualifying. Regardless, bigger talent pool = many more options. .

  5. Meantime, on an unrelated note, Aston Villa with Given in goal allows three goals in a 3-1 loss to League 2 side Bradford.

  6. Good for Stu but the prospects of him getting back into the NAT pool are a long shot at best. Not impossible …. but there are a lot of halfbacks these days and it will be tough for him to claw his way onto JK’s depth chart in time for the WC

  7. From Bolton’s site: “Stuart Holden successfully came through 65 minutes of action as the development squad beat Oldham 3-0 this evening.”

  8. yay. I hope the rest of the recovery goes smoothly. I was having flashbacks from this headline of Holden’s last reserve games when they found ligament damage and put him out for another 6 months. That was heart wrenching.

    • not alone in a central midfield. I think Holden only ever played out wide for the US. I think in the Netherlands game where De Jong took him out, he was switching flanks with Donovan on the other. Holden would pinch in as a third CM with a more attacking role. Well, it was only 30mins of action but that’s how it looked.

      • I believe he did play some cm during a Gold Cup run with a B team. I don’t think MB was part of that squad though.

    • In the 2009 qualifier at Azteca, Holden came on as a sub and played out wide on the right… I don’t think it was one of MB90’s better games…

  9. This is just a dream at this point…

    But a central midfield pairing with two engines like Bradley and Holden would wear teams down.

  10. Considering the relative lateness of the season already, I’d just like to see him be fully ready this fall … hmm for obvious reasons, let me change that term to “autumn”

  11. Can we get an update after the game?

    Oh, and I don’t like this article above one starting with the word “Breaking”… Superstitious caution.

  12. I am cautiously optimistic. To come back this far is a terrific story of heart and persistence. If he can regain his fitness and maintain his health he has a great chance of becoming a key player for Bolton in the Championship and that would be a great story by itself. As for regaining consideration for the USMNT? Well, like I said, I’m cautiously optimistic.

    • I agree. I think to expect him to return to his pre-injury (national team caliber) form anytime soon is a bit overly optimistic, which is really unfortunate. He seems like a good guy and, from what I’ve heard, his hard work and commitment in midfield made him a fan favorite. Could you imagine the amount of ground covered if we deployed Holden, Bradley and Jones out there? That is a non-stop, tireless midfield if I’ve ever seen one.

      At this point I just hope he can stay injury free and find his feet again professionally, whether at Bolton or elsewhere.


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