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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Stuart Holden

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On a night when Landon Donovan grabbed headlines by scoring two goals, the performance of the night was turned in by a player who didn’t begin the U.S. Men’s National Team’s match vs. Guatemala in the starting lineup.

Stuart Holden took the field at halftime on Friday night and proceeded to turn in one of the better midfield performances in recent memory on the U.S. team.  The Bolton midfielder delivered pin-point crosses, dangerous long passes and kept the ball moving as the U.S. attack rattled off five goals in the second 45 minutes of the match in a 6-0 victory.

Holden certainly answered questions about his ability to be an impact player, and just might have done enough to play his way into the U.S. starting lineup heading into the Gold Cup.

Holden beat out Donovan, Mix Diskerud and DaMarcus Beasley for SBI USMNT Man of the Match honors.

What did you think of Holden’s performance? What USMNT player did you consider the Man of the Match? Cast your vote after the jump):

  • Stuart Holden
  • Landon Donovan
  • Mix Diskerud
  • Damarcus Beasley
  • Herculez Gomez
  • Brek Shea


Who received your vote for USMNT Man of the Match vs. Guatemala?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Holden showed a vision and touch a class above the other centermids. However, he only played 45 minutes, and against an inexperienced team that was tired and dispirited from chasing the ball. I’m as stoked as everyone else by the possible reemergence of Stu, but…

    Beasley played solid and steady for 90 minutes. Beas was the only attacking threat in that horrid first 30 minutes, and handled his new captaincy well. He got my vote because he brought it for 90.

    • I agree. Landon played a great game. I swear, I think he’s been humble and professional throughout this whole ordeal.

    • They have before, right?

      Bradley and Holden, individually, have the skill and understanding to play with anyone/any pairing.

      • My guess, though, is that, in Brazil, Klinsmann will just leave Holden in reserve to inject offense late, when needed…which, I expect, will be most games…because he will have made the mistake of not starting Holden.

      • The decision should be based on the opponent. Jones/Bradley is a good CM combo for big physical opponents. Bradley/Holden are a good CM combo when the opponent is quick.
        Use Cameron/Edu/Williams as backups for Jones in those physical games…and Holden/Mixx/Torres as options in a more technical game or if Bradley has card trouble/Injury.

      • I can’t remember having seen Bradley and Holden together, but then again my memory is a little suspect. I went to a WCQ at Azteca back in ’01 or ’02 and I couldn’t tell you who scored unless I looked it up. But… yeah, I like the idea of Bradley playing a little deeper and Holden playing a more creative attacking central midfielder role.

        Also agree that it depends on the opponent. Part of my question is because I think Bradley and Jones click so well. But, of course, Jones will get yellow cards and anyone can get injured.

        Holden as a super sub is tempting, but if he’s at the top of his game I want him starting.

        Dempsey — Altidore
        F Johnson–Holden–Bradley–Donovan

        with Gomez on for Dempsey or Altidore
        E Johnson on for F Johnson

        and shoot! I just watched a replay of SJ beating LA 3-2 and I want Gordon to come off the bench for a last minute goal!! Ha. I’m laughing but I still want it.

    • That would be the best combination we could have. Jones is loose with the ball, and so streaky. I don’t see how he out competes either Cameron or Holden. Cameron is a better more disciplined 6 behind MB than Jones. The other combo would be MB shading behind Stu. Jones is a fine player when he’s on, but he is so mercurial…you never know if he’s going to have his head in the game or be out of sorts with a lot of bad pa$$e$ and dumb fouls. Jones’ chemistry with MB is lukewarm at best and that should be the ultimate deciding factor. The only way he should crack the starting line up is through injury to MB, Cam or Stu, or if Omar tanks and Cam goes to CB. Stu absolutely needs to start, he reads the game at the same level as LD and MB…great vision, quick decision making and ball movement…

  2. Thought Stu was superb, high speed, everything forward. Did those long slicing diagonal balls Jermaine Jones specializes in to cut through the D. 1st Half Torres was the problem for me, everything he touched he killed with slow squares and drops, nothing forward. I’ve never seen Mixx play at length before, loved his skill and especially the way he threw himself into tackles for such a skinny guy. Commentator said Klinsman wants Mixx to be tougher and nastier, he’s on his way. Saw this with Zusi, before the qualifiers he was a little soft, but now post qualifiers with KC Zusi has a nice nasty edge. And as an aside, what was Rimando doing 30 years up field colliding with his defense – twice?

  3. Holden and Diskerud were great. I still have some concerns about them as it is never a fair comparison to put two guys in at halftime against a tiring team who can’t possess and declare them better than the guys who were in the first half who had to play against a fresh team who can’t possess. Guatemala had very little in the way of midfield or offensive presence out there (save a few “almost” opportunities by Minor Lopez).

    My only concern about Diskerud and Holden is how would they fare against a team who could possess and attack repeatedly and could they do it for 90? That said, I do appreciate that second half for what it was and they were clearly the change that upped the tempo and made us a much sharper team. On that same note, I have never been a Beckerman fan (not because he is a hippy or anything). The guy makes a ton of errors passing and can’t defend. I was repeatedly screaming at my TV over him last night. I personally think he should be at the bottom of our central midfield depth options, behind Bradley, Holden, Diskerud, Torres, my 9 year old son ( 🙂 ), and so forth.

  4. I think Stu Holden is the missing piece that can take the US from being a decent team in the WC to one that gets at least to the quarters. If we can secure the back line, our front 6 is awfully good and we could go far this time, with luck of course.

    • This
      Couldn’t agree more. Stu has skills not seen from Americans – not sure how he developed them, not from the Dynamo – but I see him as depth on a solid WC team.

      • Why couldn’t be from the Dynamo? The American game has come a long way. Smh. And I realize Stu wasn’t born here but he def learned to play here.

  5. What can you say about Holden? One has to be reasonable and consider opponent, situation etc but…. for as long as he’s been away from competition, he looked poised and fearless. Maaaaan I hope he keeps this up. He really brought out his full bag of tricks with some pretty little imaginative touch deliveries into space, soft lobs over the top, pinpoint diagonal balls across the field. But…. that ball he put on Donovan’s laces was freaking magnificent! Very difficult and having the stones to attempt it and deliver? Pure class and had me jumping out of my chair and screaming like a madman.

    One of my biggest fears is the vulnerability we have w/ the lack of a poised, skilled alternative to Bradley. In a long tourney, cards, injuries etc… it is a must. Another 3 mos and Stu may be that and more.

  6. Landy having a big game in Southern California vs a bad opponent didn’t see that one coming!!!!!

    Brek Shea is still bad.

  7. Holden made passes, kept the offense moving forward. There were no backward passes with him. He glides when he runs and he looks to me to show no ill effects from his injuries. If he is healthy, no brainer to put him in the starting 11. Gomez is relentless and Shea was downfield a lot. Such a big guy who can move. 3 players in my estimation that need to be in the starting 11 or at least seriously considered.

  8. Stuart did play well, as did Mix. But let’s see how they do during the length I of the tournament. This was just one game. As I remember after one good game Danny Williams was the new anointed Center mid, and ultimately that did not pan out.

    • Don’t type padd the ball or padding the ball “s” instead of “d” otherwise the system will pick it up for moderation.

    • Usually it filters out the word *ss, even if it’s in the middle of a word like:


      • To rule out the use of the words p@ss and @ssist on a soccer forum in order to screen out a word as benign as @ss is… wellllll… asinine. Even though it is a root of the same, thankfully, that word only has one “s”.

      • well the software is not specific to soccer. but still, it’s ridiculous that the person who programmed the software would code it as awful as it is.

    • I mean, it’s a website regarding soccer.

      One would think words like: “pa$$” would not be filtered, regardless if it contains the word a$$. Even so, the overwhelming majority of people that post on here are mature/adults.

      Meanwhile, last week a homophobic post was up for about two straight days. It makes zero sense, takes away from the conversations and makes it bothersome posting at times.

      • Ahhh, I see why my post is still waiting moderation. I had the gall to complain about Beckerman’s pa$$ing. Agree that if the filter is that sensitive, sensible solutions like allowing the 3 letter string preceded by any other letter or specifically banning the string when it stands alone (spaces on either side) or is followed by hole, etc. would keep the frustration down immensely.

        Many times I have posted here and could not figure out why my post was up for moderation (and almost NEVER is moderated, just sits there). Now I see why and will learn to use $ for s even when just using standard English words.

      • Well, I take that back, the moderators actually pa$$ed my comment and allowed it to be shown. First for everything!

  9. Wow Brek was a monster. If he continues like that, that left side is beastly.

    Also, Donovan looked so much better centrally than out wide. It’s clear he’s missing the explosiveness he had. This brings up an interesting point: where will he play with the nats??

  10. Holden and Diskerud did look good. On the other hand, until the opening goal, Guatemala was bunkered in for the most part. It looked like Guatemala gave up after the first goal, so I’ll be interested to see how Holden and Diskerud look against some stiffer competition, starting with Costa Rica.

    • I think they’ll do better against teams playing bunker ball because they can actually put the ball in spots that Beckerman and Torres can’t.

      • Torres is one of the better passers in the pool and can put the ball wherever he wants. Beckerman…not so much.

      • I’ve had comments with cursing go through and benign comments languish in mod limbo. I fully understand the need for it, but whatever they use is not successful. It just ruins the flow of threads for me and I leave.

      • I don’t work for the site but from what i’ve read from you won’t and you could get banned from the site.

      • All four of the deep midfielders we saw in that game are excellent passers. Beckerman is a highly underrated passer going forward, and Torres has obvious skill distributing the ball in all directions and distances.

  11. Not totally surprised by this result. When the roster was announced a few weeks ago I posted on these boards that although our A team is a little better, this B team will play more entertaining soccer. Definately alot of skill on this B team.

  12. I’m a BIG stu fan. He was really fantastic when he came in, and I thought he and Mixx blended extremely well together. Beyond the passing, they both did some impressive ball winning in the midfield, breaking up attacks and restarting the attack.

    The only slight measure of caution is they were in against an obviously tired squad in the second half. Not saying they couldn’t do it from the start, but I’d like to see it happen before I get really excited.

    The interesting question would be if either of them can force their way into the first team. I would looooove to see a central midfield of Stu and Bradley.

  13. That game was so much different with Holden in the game and Mixx in the game. Also, Brek Shea was an absolute beast on the left. Put him and Johnson on that left side wow, the speed and size will be something very very few teams will be able to handle….

    • Right, but remember that he hasn’t always put in consistent performances. If he gets regular time in the PL, I think he can become a more reliable option for the US.

    • Also, he needs to work on his shooting. And learn when to shoot or make the smart pass to a teammate in front of goal.

      • He shot rarely (A) to keep the defense honest, or (B) because game was in hand, so why not have a go?

  14. Holden and Diskerud were exponentially better than Beckerman and Torres. I would prefer to see Holden and Diskerud in the starting line up.

    • I agree Stu and Mix were aggressive in possession and made numerous wonderful passes. But it may be good for us all to remember, that we had just scored before half. Guatemala could not stay bunkered any more, and extended their forwards into our defensive third and moved their midfield up close to midfield, thus opening more passing lanes. In the first half, everyone was behind the ball and in our offensive half of the field: 11 players, coaches, the bench, even some of the kids that walked out with them for the national anthem.

      That all being said, Beckerman offers nothing creative, and Torres moves too slow. I was a proponent of Torres under Bradley, but compared to Jones, Bradley, Holden, and Mix he is just too slow on the ball.

      • This is a very important point that nobody seems to be making. I think Beckerman and Torres probably open up the game in the 2nd half as well if they stay on. Plus, there was very little demanded defensively of the midfield in the second half (or the first half, really). I thought Torres looked pretty good, and had a very nice a$$ist. I’d like to see all kinds of iterations in deep midfield: Beckerman-Holden, Holden-Torres, etc.

      • Note as well, the US began opening up the game around 35 mins at the same time Torres began receiving the ball from the back. counter to what Martino was saying the US was at its best when Torres was behind Beckerman who must have had the record for passes backwards and passes that created nothing.

        I’d like to see Torres mixed with Mix or Holden.

    • Agreed. They made all the difference in the second half. Shea deserves a lot of credit too. He was a torrent out there!

      • It’s a shame he’s heading back to England.

        Even though it was against a weak opponent, he showed flashes that were lacking during his last year’s worth of internationals.

      • Shea’s got all the potential in the world but how/why are people rating him so highly after last nights match?

        He skied his only two or three shots and sent one of his two attempted crosses over the moon. If Shea can fine-tune some things, he could definitely be a beast but that performance last night leaves A LOT to be desired.

      • agreed, I goes being completely left open by Guatemala on the wing counts as a skill…I thought that given how much room Shea was given to run at the goal he actually did awful with the opportunities he received

      • He certainly wasn’t man of the match material and had some obvious rust but, I thought he did well considering recent playing time…

        Most importantly and no small thing- he posed a formidable threat and demanded lots of attention out wide opening up space in the center of the field for Stu and Mix to operate. No small thing this. He brought speed and aggression, made nice runs, some very nice crosses and worked on defense. It was better than I expected and gives me hope.

      • When he comes on, the other team instantly has some problems they didn’t have before. He’s long and fast, not afraid to try stuff, and puts in dangerous crosses. That’s why: he’s dangerous. By the way all your shots are straight at the keeper.

      • From my vantage point, the danger came from the central distribution by one Stuart Holden.

    • Mix certainly has the passing vision and showed more fight than he has in the past, but he lost the ball more times then he should and I’m not so sure he would have looked good in the first half when Guatemala was pressuring.

      Holden was great though. I’d like to see Beckerman/Holden in the next one, and then of course Bradley/Holden ultimately.

  15. Holden’s work on the field was a thing of beauty. His pass to set up the last goal, as well as his run/assist to Donovan, were both incredible. He’s clearly a cut above the rest of the players here, save for maybe Donovan and Run DMB.

    • How about this…Holden has a killer Gold Cup US beat Mexico in the final…Stu with winning assist or goal….he goes back to Bolton tears up the Championship….JK has him in the USMNT 18 for the Sept & Oct. qualifers & JK plays him 30 minutes in a couple of games….EPL takes notice he moves in the January transfer window has a solid if not excellent second half in the EPL….JK now has to think Stu, JJ or the General in central midfield…..JK decides it is the World Cup I have to get my best players on the pitch:
      F. Johnson Clint Donovan
      Bradley Stu
      ????DMB Besler ???? Cameron Steve C/ Timmy C

    • Not sure if they do replays, but NBC sports has an online viewing option similar to ESPN3. Don’t know the particulars of it, but it might be worth checking out. I know it was talked about when it was announced that NBC was going to be taking over EPL this year.

    • In its defense, at least it’s better than Guatemala’s. The random green and blue lines don’t really do it for me. But I, too, was disappointed to see the Waldos last night.

      • That would be so cool. What if the World Cup jerseys feature a crest redesign? The designs of US jerseys have been so good lately that a new, timeless & classic crest design would top it all off!

    • YUP. Besides it looking way out of date, what really gets to me is that the stars at the top of the shield should be surrounded by blue and the stripes should be in red/white — like the flag?! This crest is NOT EVEN THE USA FLAG!

  16. Holden just has that innate ability, vision and understanding that you can’t teach.

    He was undoubtedly in a class above the rest on the pitch. If he stays healthy, I have no doubt he’ll remind people why he was considered one of the better central midfielders in the EPL, prior to injury.


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