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Holden diagnosed with torn ACL

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Stuart Holden knew. He didn’t need a scan to tell him that he was facing another major knee injury, but on Monday the tests on his injured right knee came back with the news he and the U.S. Soccer community were praying wouldn’t come.

Holden has been diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury that could force him out for nine months.

The injury is the third major injury Holden has faced in the past three years, and comes just months after his return from an 18-month layoff from a devastating injury to his left knee suffered in March of 2011.

Holden had enjoyed a strong run of form in the 2013 Gold Cup, and was looking like a strong contender for playing time with the full U.S. squad when September World Cup qualifying rolled around, but now he faces another daunting road to recovery.


  1. Couldn’t have happened to a less deserving person, tragic. On another note even though I’ve criticized beckerman before he’s definitely more useful then kljestan. The best we can hope for is that stu doesn’t run into anymore issues and can play in the 2018 tournament but even that’s a maybe.

  2. I feel awful for Stu. Hopefully it is just the torn ACL. His other knee injury was much more complicated. Small consolation that he didn’t blow his left knee, that would have surely ended his career. Omar came back from his ACL in about 7.5 months and looked strong at about 9-10 months, so it is not entirely out of the question that he might be able to help off the bench in a year. Stu is so mentally strong, i wouldn’t put it past him to have a shot at getting on the field.

    It was a bit of a freak play. With Parkhurst coming into Quintero from the other side and Stu closing fast, I don’t think Stu was expecting Quintero to quickly turn straight into him…. It caught him by surprise and he planted hard on the right leg to recover from the meg… the knee just couldn’t take the hard stop. I wish him the best…I have no doubt he’ll be back.

  3. I’m going on my 3rd ACL reconstruction, within 3 years. Same knee. I would rather play soccer than almost anything else on this planet. Feels like I’ve been in rehab for 2 years straight. I feel your pain, Stu.

  4. This is some terrible news. So sorry for Stu. Here’s hoping for a full recovery and for many more years to his career.

    Hang in there, dude.

  5. I get sick just trying to imagine what he must feel. I hope the US finds a way to bring him tot he World Cup in some capacity, not as an announcer, but as a coach or something with the team. He deserves it.

  6. You never want to see anyone get injured like that, but especially not someone as likable as Stu.

    Get better. #noholdenback

  7. Doubt he makes it back for Brazil. He had to keep playing with Bolton and stay injury free since it was clear he wasn’t the same player he was before during Copa Oro. We will miss him but we have Diskerud coming into his own and we have depth in central midfield. Put him on the bench in Brazil, he’ll be an inspiration to his teammates.

  8. Just thinking. Put Stu in the booth or studio for the upcoming Nats matches, if he is not rehabing. I’ve heard he’s engaging and personable. I’ll bet he’s a step above Twellman. But, frankly, I do like Wynalda’s candid approach and game knowledge.

    • He might be too much of a nice guy though. Can’t imagine him ever criticizing anyone.

      I am restraining myself from responding to your Wynalda opinions…

  9. This might sound a little rough and i really do like holden, he sounds like a great guy and is a fantastic player but he is 28 later this week, by the time hes back in the mix he will be 29. I’m not saying hes old but hes getting up there in age, not only for the national team but as far as on the club side, due to this injury there is a chance bolton drops him and he just comes back to MLS, which generally for national teamers does not work well, example being ricardo clark and feilhaber. Also his history of injuries is also starting to work against the USMNT, imagine if yesterdays game went to extra time and we would have effectively had one less sub, or say he was on a WQ squad and would have an injury, thats a lost spot. Im not saying hes soft by any stretch, but certain players are injury prone more than others and holden unfortunately is one of those guys. Finally, im not sure were he even would go in our depth chart as the box to box mid, id put bradley and diskerud ahead of his hands down and i would also but kljestan a bit higher on it.
    What do you guys think?

    • I disagree. Holden was pretty much claiming the third position behind Bradley and Jones, and I say that as a big Diskerud fan, but with Mix, it is what he could be, because he isn’t there yet. Obviously, he is not going to be in the 23 for the World Cup.

      • Really hes not? I would say were at least taking 4 cms, those being bradley, jones, and then two other spots who are up for grabs between mix, kljestan, edu, beckerman and danny williams, id take beckerman and mix

    • I agree with you…he is John OBrian 2.0 and we all need to move on and get over it…I feel Mix did more for the team then Stu did this GC anyway and everyone wanted to jump on the come back feel good story more then look at how he was preforming. Anyone who didnt see this coming was in fantasy land…I called this kid getting hurt during the pre-game with his recklessness going into tackles…took him 19 more mins to prove me right lmao

      • The First Amendment is a thing, but that doesn’t mean you should be a cruel idiot. Kid tore his ACL. Go to H – E – L – L.

      • The First Amendment is a thing, but that doesn’t mean you should be a cruel idiot. Kid tore his ACL.

  10. I was just beginning to watch him play without holding my breath on every tackle. So sorry, Stuart. Get back.

  11. I feel for Holden. He is one of my favorite American players, and came up learning his skills in the same park as my kids did, and where we still play. I have a feeling that despite this injury, he will find a way to have a great life. Such a motivated man. You just can’t stop people like that.

  12. Heartbreaking. I was hoping it was just a precaution to take him out, worst possible news. I hope he can make it back and have a productive, and lucrative, career.

  13. I wonder what makes someone have so many problems with injuries? Is it the physiology? Is it their style of movement? Their aggression? Or, their caution? Is it bad luck? I wonder.

    Listen, life goes on. I truly hope Stuart Holden can make a recovery and close out a career as a footballer. I think a strong mind and support from fans will help Holden make something of himself. Hopefully, that can still be on the pitch.

    A slew of injuries and being in his late twenties, maybe that means a change in expectations.

    At some point, he’ll have to look at what’s next? Maybe he’ll decide that he wants to get into coaching or some other aspect of the game and he’ll be happy. If it comes sooner than he, or any of us fans would like, life will go on and Holden can be a big part of US Soccer in this country. I’d like to see him bring his excellent attitude and welcoming appeal to fans and players.

  14. Plenty of players nowadays come back from an ACL and are close to, if not exactly, back to where they were before. He’ll be fine. Just really tough and emotionally draining for him, I’m sure.

  15. Just want to make it very, very clear that although Stu has been terribly prone to bad fortune, he is NOT “injury prone” in a way that implies some physical deficiency. His first long time off came from getting jumped by hooligans, the next from an ugly studs-up tackle from a Dutch destroyer, and the next and longest from a freak, nasty gash-inducing tackle. This is the first injury in which his body broke somewhat on its own. So, we can say that Stu has a succession of heartbreaking injuries, but please do not say not that he is “prone” to injuries. The only thing he is “prone” to is maintaining the drive and positivity and courage to stare down long layoffs and rehab and return to high levels of soccer. There are few like Stu.

    • Unfortunately, after the Evans tackle, he had a lot of smaller injuries that further kept him off the field. That mixed with this recent one and combined with his others (his fault or not) will make him injury prone to the only people that matter: coaches.

  16. UGH. Yeah when I saw the replay of the collision of his LEFT knee, but saw him holding his RIGHT knee, and saw how he landed funny on it, I knew it was bad, and not just a knock. When I saw him covering his face on the bench, you could see that HE knew it was bad. My hopes were only slightly raised when he came out after the final whistle, but this, THIS confirms the worst news for the guy. GET WELL STU, we are rooting for you.

  17. So sad and terrible. What a bright and cheery guy and what a wonderful talent. That great year at bolton in the EPL: I think of his energy, field coverage, passing, speed, height, field vision, technique, directness, tackling — that was the best i’d ever seen a us central midfielder play (i missed the reyna and o’brien era). While he hadn’t gotten back that level in the gold cup – his movement not quite as nimble, and the passing and finishing not quite as sharp – he looked to be on his way back and seemed to be so savoring the chance to be on the field, wearing the shirt. Just a special player and if he can’t come back from this, we are all a little bit lesser. My hear breaks for ya, Stu. God bless, whatever you do

  18. So sad! I hope he does make it back, but won’t ever be able to watch him play again without fearing for his health. Sorry too for BWFC, who just signed a contract extension with Holden and are trying to get back into the EPL. Does US Soccer have to pay any compensation? Or will insurance cover his salary?

    It’s rather common for athletes to tear the ACL on the side opposite the repaired knee. Explanations I’ve read include uneven strength of the two legs – working too hard on the “bad leg” to the detriment of the good one, and having a narrow ACL notch or other genetic flaw that puts the ligament at risk.

    • Usually the Federation has to pay something toward his salary. Insurance may cover a bit too, but Bolton are SOL with not only the money wasted, but the talent and roster spot too. Bolton are not a rich club and until yesterday, were eyeing a starter for next season.

  19. While his previous injuries came from clearly rough tackles. What worries me about this one most is it comes out of nothing from what I can see. Is better that it’s the opposite knee or worse? Still hope for the best for Holden.

    • This kinda confirms my worst suspicions… that the previous traumatic tackles he suffered really masked the fact that he had bad knees to begin with.

      • A broken leg from a tackle and a cracked and shredded knee from a tackle don’t iimply bad knees. This is the first injury that seems like that. Had it not been for two tackles, we might have been talking about the first injury of his career, which, while certainly unfortunate, would be an entirely different perspective.

  20. Guy is made out of glass. The equivalent of Jose Reyes in MLB, unbelievably talented but can’t play at a high level without tearing apart his body. Time to move on. Best of luck Stu!

  21. Feel bad for Holden, but optimistic in his recovery. I believe Diskerud moves up the depth chart. Geez we do not need anymore defensive midfielder type of players. We need Mix in there to provide some vertical passing (Pirlo type of passes). Holden and Mix ‘RAN’ the midfield at the Gold Cup!!!

  22. Horrible news. Sports often make me happy, mad, or frustrated. But this is maybe the first time I remember being legitimately sad by something that in no way affects anything I do in my life. Best of luck to Stu, he’ll be back in some capacity next year.

  23. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. But if his playing career isn’t what it might have been, I hope he gets groomed for a broadcast job and stays a face if US soccer for a long time.

  24. Poor guy. I can’t believe the luck he has. Some guys are just injury prone and after that, he might be the most injury prone player I’ve seen.

    It’s hard not to feel bad for a guy who stays so positive and worked so hard and through so many set backs. Here’s hoping one more will just make him stronger.

  25. 1) He will likely never be able to get back to where he was prior to his injury at Bolton. Sure he will be able to make a recovery but I doubt a full recovery.

    2) He is officially an injury prone player. There is no getting around this, people are already comparing him to obrien and others of the same kin. This will effect his ability to make first team because coaches are more likely to error on the side of caution.

    3) Time to stop placing expectations on Stu. Don’t feel too bad folks. He’ll probably end up taking a commentating job with Fox.

    4) This couldn’t have come at a better time. We have a lot of depth at Stu’s position. It may be a big blow to the locker room but they may keep stu around for motivation.

    5) Im a pessimist and this is all opinion.

  26. Man this is disappointing, I know every American fan is saddened by this news. I wonder how Bolton will react to this. They have been very patient with Stu thus far. Get well Stu!

  27. You have already proved to the world your determination is second to none. Your fans all stand behind you in your road back to the usmnt or whatever you wish. STUSA!

  28. Pity for all of you– your loss is my gain. I am looking forward to watching him spray dangerous balls to the likes of Charlie Davies and Freddy Adu. With Neven Subotic anchoring the back line, we will be unstoppable and win Brazil 2014, as well as England 2018 and USA 2022.

  29. Oh man. This is awful. I would retire. Seriously. But that is why I am not a professional athlete. These guys have an unbelievable amount of determination.

    If he does choose to retire though, I would not blame him one bit.

    • He wont retire. He will be back as a professional, but he is done as far as playing in another World Cup. Its pretty clear, he must know and we have to face it as fans.

      Nine months from now puts us in early May, which is one month before the World Cup. So no way he plays in that one. Then by 2018 he will most likely be too old, and other current young/talented players will have passed (lets all hope) him by.

      So for this World Cup forget about Stu (sadly), our guys are Bradley/Jones/Mix/Kljestan/Beckerman/Edu/Williams.

    • He wont retire. He will be back as a professional, but he is done as far as playing in another World Cup. Its pretty clear, he must know and we have to face it as fans.

      Nine months from now puts us in early May, which is one month before the World Cup. So no way he plays in that one. Then by 2018 he will most likely be too old, and other current young/talented players will have pa$$ed (lets all hope) him by.

      So for this World Cup forget about Stu (sadly), our guys are Bradley/Jones/Mix/Kljestan/Beckerman/Edu/Williams.

  30. There aren’t enough sad-face, angry-face, Existentialist-protesting-the-cruelties-of-a-seemingly-random-and-capricious-universe emoticons in the world for this terrible news. This frigging SUCKS.
    There’s going to be a chorus of “Hang ’em up, Stu, we love you” cries and it’s tempting to join them, but honestly– whatever the guy wants to do, I’m sure the whole US fan base will be eager to support him. Godspeed, Mr. Holden.

      • For the USMNT, Beckerman played very well during this last 7 match “tournament” but you’re not even listing him? What have Edu, Kljestan and Williams done to put them ahead of Beckerman?

        Professionally, Beckerman playing for a blue-chip franchise in MLS is just as or even more impressive as Edu’s loan spell in Turkey, Sacha in Belgium or Williams in The Championship.

        But sure, let’s stick to the narrative that he’s too slow.

      • So just because he did well against CONCACAF opposition makes him not slow or inadequate against the top dogs of UEFA, CONMEBOL, & CAF? Not knocking him. He did well these past few games. That being said, he definitely has moved up in the pecking order of CDM/#6’s.

        1) Jones 2)Cameron 3) Beckerman 4) Edu

        At #8 I’m going 1) MB [1.5)Get well soon Stu] 2)Mix 3)Klejstan 4)Torres

      • People have short memory spans. Beckerman was a disaster in the WCQ in Jamaica last September that the US lost, and he was poor in matches since then.

        Playing well in a tournament on home turf against mostly B team opposition does not mean Beckerman is suddenly going to excel against much tougher competition in Brazil, especially when he has consistently performed poorly in more difficult circumstances. The same goes for Goodson, who has also been a liability against tougher competition.

      • I never said Beckerman would excel in the World Cup, but nice try at putting words in my mouth.

        I was simply pointing out that it’s amazing how people would still rate Edu or Williams ahead of Beckerman at DM. It appears we agree that people have short memory spans!

        Beckermen playing well against CONCACAF “B squads” is better than anything Edu or Williams have done in a long time.

      • The difference is that Williams and Edu have played against tougher competition week in and week out than what Beckerman faces. Edu with Rangers was also playing Champions League and did pretty well. He also has a lot more international experience, jusually against tougher teams than Beckerman has faced.

      • Cameron, Edu, Mix, Kljestan, and Williams need to be grouped.

        Cameron, Edu, and Williams are defensive. While Kljestan and Mix are proper central midfielders.

        Of the first group, it’s Cameron, Edu, and Williams in that order. Cameron has performed the best of the three and is the most adapt player, handling a RB, CB, and DM role easily.

        Of the second, Mix hopped over Kljestan by a long shot. Kljestan just hasn’t put in a good enough performance in years. Although many on here continually think he can make it, facts show he’s not made for the national level. Whereas, a youthful Mix looked like a veteran this past month and easily eclipses Kljestan’s skill and usefulness.

      • He’s been called into camps, looked at, and left on the bench. That should tell you Klinsi isn’t really impressed with him.

        Mix at this point is #3 on the Linking midfielder depth chart, IMHO. And the guy I would say is #2 will probably be playing wing instead (Landon Donovan). So Mix is functionally MB90’s deputy.

      • Sacha’s been capped like forty times. He just doesn’t show well in national colors, other than the fluke hat trick game. He was particularly awful in the Confederations Cup in 2009. Even in matches where he’s not poor, he’s not noticeably good, either.

      • I think your main points are spot on, though I think Kljestan deserves another shot. Impressing in that Belgium friendly was always going to be nearly impossible. They’re my dark horse pick for next summer.

      • Sorry, but Edu falls into the Kljestan pool for me on players people constantly believe will be something they’re not and routinely forget why until they actually see them play.

        Neither are worth a damn.

      • unlike cameron, kleistan, williams, mix and holden, Edu has played well for the US in world cup competition (unfortunate to have his goal called back) im not sure how one game versus a concacaf minnow suddenly vaults cameron over edu at the dm spot, where edu plays regularly for club and country (unlike cameron).

    • And then Williams, Edu, and possibly Sacha Kleijsten, depending upon what JK thinks is his real position.

      Holden can come back from this. He’s still young and ACLs are not the career-enders they used to be. It’s just not clear he can do so and reclaim a spot on the USMNT before other, younger, players pass him by.

      • Go back and watch Williams in the Russia friendly and then in Honduras. He has really lost his form or focus. I hope he can find it again in the Championship this year but I don’t think he isn’t someone I’d count on right now.

    • I feel terrible for Holden, but I didn’t see him yet at that point where he was ahead of enough players to make the World Cup team. I didn’t see him as having recovered his former form yet although the potential was there. I was more from Diskerud than him for example.

      • This was what I thought too. Honestly, Mix had more drive going forward, more precision in his passing, and was always available as an outlet who was ready to switch the point of attack. Holden was playing safer with his passes than Mix was, but not really being any better in completing them. I did think Holden brought more defensively. But Mix did very well in that regard in the Final. So that shows me he ‘can’ step it up in that regard. Maybe not a physical tackler, but heady positioning to break up passes counts too.

    • There’s also this other guy with funny hair that was one of the best US players in the Gold Cup. Smart, strong, holding mid with leadership qualities that does what he’s told. Right now he’s ahead of Williams, Edu (where does that guy play?) and Kljestan (when was he last good on the NATS?)

      • edu was with rangers until their financial troubles forced him to Stoke, who loaned him to a Turkish club. He is currently injured.

    • I can’t imagine Stu will be ready for Brazil. I don’t think we can know the answer to your question until after the 2013-14 season, when we see how guys are playing for their clubs.

      • I’d agree. 9 months puts him April at the earliest, and with Holden’s reputation as someone who gets naggling injuries after a big one, he’ll be lucky to make the field in 2015. At that point, unfortunately, Bolton may cut their losses.

        Him making the World Cup, at this point, is the same as Davies making 2010. Let’s let these guys rest physically and mentally. For now, Holden just needs to do what he did last time: put one foot in front of the other and keep going during his comeback. This time around, I think it’ll be a mental challenge.

      • Ridiculous to compare Holden and Davies. The latter was nearly killed in a car wreck and the former has an ACL. See the likes of Andrian Peterson, RGIII, and Frank Gore who have come back from worse. I think the medical staff may have some culpability here. He was obviously not strong enough yet to be back for consecutive 90 minute games. He has missed to much time. A Strausburg approach would have been advisable.

      • Comparing Charlie and Stu in this instance doesn’t work.

        Stu has an ACL , an injury that modern sports medicine seems to have a good handle on.

        And Stu is clearly a highly motivated character and clearly has tremendous support at least with US soccer.

        Odds are against Stu but I would not bet against him getting back in time for the WC.

        Other players lose form and get hurt as well so all bets are off.

        Charlie at this point was:

        1. Lucky to be alive
        2. Lucky to be walking
        3. Lucky to be able to play a sport of any kind
        4. Lucky to be able to play pro soccer

        The only reason any non delusional person thought Davies had a chance at the World Cup was because of Davie’s self mounted PR campaign to get himself on the team.

      • Also, Davies had established himself as a regular starter and integral to the senior team’s success with excellent performances against top teams in big games (qualifiers, confederations).

        In reality, we have no idea what role Holden would play on the senior team in a World Cup scenario. He is still largely an unknown quantity at that level.

      • Agree with this. Edu and Williams have some work to do to move back in front of beckerman. Mix seems to bring offensive skill that is unique to the group – hope he continues to impress. It will be VERY interesting to see who JK calls up for the next round of qualifiers.

      • of that list, only Bradley and Edu have World Cup experience. Does a tournament against concacaf B teams really vault Mix or Becks over Edu at this point? I like Mix’s upside, so, perhaps some good performances in qualifying might do the trick, but, Edu does have a track record of playing well in big internationals…

      • Agree with this, except that at this point you have to slot in Beckerman just behind Edu. He’s certainly shown more than Kljestan and Williams (though I think they both deserve another shot – Kljestan because he hasn’t really gotten one since his recent club improvement and Williams because we’ve at least seen him have one or two excellent showings). Though if we get to the point that we’re down past Edu, we’re going to have a hard time winning a game in Brazil regardless of the pecking order there.

    • Yes, skill wise John O’Brien is the most appropriate comparison.

      I’ve followed this fantastic footballer and great person since I saw him in the Gold Cup of 2009. The big picture is that he will be alright, maybe not the pro career he and everyone else wanted, but he will always have a good job in some organization.

      • Credit to Bolton for offering him that contract before this happened. They took a big risk on him. He’ll be taken care of.

      • I don’t feel any less sympathy for him, but skillwise he was not on JOB and Holden’s level. JOB and Holden possess a level of class that is nearly unmatched in US soccer history.

      • slow it down, dude…Remember, unlike JOB Holden came thru the US youth system (Clemson, US under 20 and 23) and wasnt even the best player on those teams ( he never even made an all ACC team). Holden wasnt even the best player during his years with the Dynamo. Saw a claudio comparison somewhere, which again is way overstating the case. At every level since Claudio was ia senior n high school, he was the nations best player, dominating college soccer and then playing as a standout overseas. Its easy to love Holden, and seeing this is like a punch in the gut, but lets keep his talents in perspective.

      • Sorry but Holden was Houston’s best midfielder at the time he left for Bolton. DeRo left the year before…..

      • Definitely some similarities to JOB. JOB had more skills but they were pretty close in most respects. I think Stu is tougher mentally than JOB who basically gave up on the game. Their injury histories are completely different, however. It was determined after his career that JOB had some disproportionate body issues that contributed to his constant nagging injuries while Stu just has one severe freakish injury after the other, many of them caused by gruesome tackles or horrific collisions.

  31. Unbelievable. I don’t personally know Holden but I am heartbroken for the guy. How much more can he be made to endure

    • It was extremely sad to see him sad on the bench after he was injured. I have never seen him like that. Always such a happy guy.

      • Seriously, it kind of ruined the whole game for me. My wife doesn’t really pay attention to the team with any regularity, and SHE was practically crying for the guy.

      • Actually hoping JOB reaches out to him, tells him there is life after soccer, and helps him navigate dealing with crushed dreams.

    • There’s a time to grieve and then there’s a time to get to it.

      He’ll be crushed emotionally and mentally but physically he’ll be repaired. At this point, any ridiculous talk of “retirement” is just that…ridiculous. However, he may have placed his last minute of top flight soccer for a few years. I could see him coming back to MLS to repair his body, repair his mind and repair his reputation.

      As we’ve seen, playing in MLS isn’t anything to discount, as he could still find his way back to the Nats with solid play in our league.

      Patience. Patience. Patience.

      • I’m rooting for him to return stronger than ever, but he’ll be 32 at the next WC. I believe that patience is on short supply.

      • Donovan will be 32 at the next World Cup.

        It think what you’re really trying to say is Holden is due for a trip to Cambodia.

      • After he completes his rehab, assuming he still has knees, I’d prefer that he just stay in Cambodia until a week before WC 2018…

      • All I can think of is John O’Brien who played in the Dutch League, made the World Cup team, was our best player there and looked like he could be one of the best US midfielders ever, but then had injuries drive him to early retirement. I thought Stuart, from his first year at Bolton, had the potential to at least rival Reyna. Such a tragic loss. I hope he comes back, but it will be difficult.

      • This.

        John O’Brien was a revelation during his healthy years, and quickly became one of my favorite US players. It was a shame to see him chronically struggle with injury.

        I know Stuart’s positivity and determination will help him overcome this massive setback, but I fear for his knee’s limitations at this point. A great guy and great player, he deserves better.

      • Does anyone know if he got injured this often before that initial leg-break from the Jonny Evans tackle? I just wonder if he’s always been this fragile or if that injury weakened his knee and set him up for this.

      • Leg break was from a challenge from everyone’s favorite leg breaker, Nigel DeJong. Left knee injury was Evans, but good question, poor guy’s missing his prime due to injury when he looked so promising after that first year at Bolton.

      • I recall that he wasn’t an injury prone player prior to De Jong’s tackle, and actually really prior to Johnny Evans tackle, as he recovered quickly from the clean break due to De Jong. The Evans tackle was the career crusher. That’s also why it made me so mad because he never should have been going in for that hospital ball the way he did. I’ve seen it happen a lot in sports where after a catastrophic injury, a player becomes “injury prone”. When coming back to play, even small differences in muscle, or favoring one leg or another makes one more likely to get reinjured, and this seems to be the case.

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