Midfielder in the Rye

Stuart Holden (10) of the United States (USA) prepares to take a corner kick. The United States (USA) defeated Panama (PAN) 2-1 during a quarterfinal match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA, on July 18, 2009. Photo via Newscom

In anticipation of the upcoming European club season, FFG is reflecting on the development of young USMNT members. Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley have already been profiled. Today, we turn our attention to Stuart Holden.

Stuart Holden’s first World Cup experience may not have played out as he hoped – he saw the pitch for a grand total of five minutes – but the Scottish-born midfielder still has a chance to make a name for himself at the international level.

As was observed during the pre-World Cup friendlies, Holden can be a force against top level competition. His electric performances in those matches led FFG to believe he would be the first midfielder off the bench during the cup. Instead, Bob Bradley used Benny Feilhaber as USA’s super sub extraordinaire, and Feilhaber’s composed play left Holden on the bench. As both players are tweeners – capable of playing either outside or center midfield but not dominant at either – Bradley must have decided that Feilhaber’s greater international experience was of more importance than Holden’s excellent form. The two players are close in both ability and age (Feilhaber is eight months older), so they’ll likely be competing for playing time for years to come.

To unseat Feilhaber as the ‘fifth’ midfielder, Holden needs to become a consistent contributor at the European level. He made the jump to the English Premier League last winter (previously, he had been suiting up for the Houston Dynamo) and appeared to be on his way to earning a starting role as a center mid, but an injury in a March friendly – from the foot of noted hatchet man Nigel de Jong – put him out of commission until Bolton’s final match of the season.

Of course, Holden already outshines all gringos in one respect: free kick delivery. In fact, his free kicks are so accurate that the English media assigned him the moniker Holdenballs, an homage to David Beckham’s Goldenballs (their similar hair color certainly helps the association). While Holden’s talents may never approach the rarefied air of Mr. Posh Spice, an excellent 2010 club campaign would go a long way to cementing his place as a key part of Team USA.

3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Gringo Primal says:

    As long as he doesn’t let his career get derailed by a member of the Pussycat Dolls, he should be a contributor in 2014.

  2. Bradley's Receding Hairline says:

    I’d like to see either Holden or Feilhaber as the attacking mid in a 4-2-3-1. Some tactical variety from the US would be great. Maybe he’ll develop into a Wesley Sneijder type at Bolton.

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