WAG of the Week: Karalyn West


Why is there a ZZ Top song in our heads right now?

Long-suffering U.S. and Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden is set to continue his (latest) comeback this weekend in fourth-round FA Cup action against Everton and U.S. keeper Tim Howard. (American defender Tim Ream should also feature in the match for Bolton.)

It’s been a long road back for Holden, and hopefully he stays injury-free this time. But what ever happens in the former Houston Dynamo man’s immediate future, things can’t get too bad so long as he has Ms. West (left) in his life.

Holden, as we recently recounted, had been sidelined by injuries for 16 months before returning to Bolton earlier this month. When he was knocked out of action, he had been playing extremely well and appeared to be on course to become a first-choice player for the U.S. national team.

That team could still use an in-form Holden as the final round of World Cup qualifying kicks into gear in February.

But let’s get back to Ms. West, a Columbus, Ohio, native who appeared on Project Runway in 2004.

Here she is again:



Happy Friday, all.

Stuart Holden Is Back—“For Good this Time,” He Says


Stuart Holden, the Sisyphus of U.S. Soccer, has rolled the boulder to the top of the mountain yet again.

The 27-year-old midfielder returned to action yesterday, playing for Bolton’s first team for the first time since March 2011, when he suffered a gruesome knee injury after sliding into a challenge with Manchester United defender Jonny Evans.

Holden came on for the final 16 minutes of Bolton’s 2-0 win over Premier League side Sunderland in a third-round FA Cup replay. The victory put Bolton in the FA Cup fourth round for the fourth consecutive season, but for Wanderers manager Dougie Freedman, the sweetest part of the evening was seeing Holden take the field in the 74th minute. Here he is talking to BBC Radio Manchester:

“He’s a battler and a winner. When he came on the field, I was so delighted. He’s got a long way to go, but he knows that this club are fully behind him.”

Having a long way to go is nothing new for Holden, who’s battled a series of injuries so ill-timed and so frustrating they’d have put a lesser player in a rubber room.

In March 2005, having recently signed with Sunderland out of Clemson University, Holden was attacked on the street by a Newcastle fan for the offense of being a Sunderland player in public. The sucker punch left him with a fractured eye socket and sidelined him for two months. When he returned to training, he promptly injured his ankle, missed the rest of the season, and left England, his Sunderland foray over after just six months.

Following an increasingly successful stint with the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, Holden returned to the Premier League in January 2010, signing with Bolton after a monthlong trial. He quickly won a starting spot on the team and started producing breakout performances.

He was called into the U.S. national team for a March 2010 friendly against the Netherlands, with an eye toward cracking the U.S. starting lineup for South Africa 2010. But a reckless challenge from Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong in that game broke Holden’s leg and put him on the shelf for for six weeks. He worked his way back, and was named to the U.S. World Cup side, but without enough recovery time under his belt, he saw minimal playing time at the tournament.

No matter: Holden finished 2010 strong for Bolton, and was rated the best midfielder—scratch that, best player—of the first half of the Premier League season by Guardian readers.

The second half of the season was sailing along just as well, with Bolton in seventh place in the league (and in the FA Cup semifinals), when Holden collided with Evans, whose spikes left a gash in Holden’s knee that required 26 stitches to close. The blow also tore his anterior cruciate ligament and put Holden out of action for six months. Without him, Bolton finished the 2010-11 season in 14th place. He missed the final two months of the season, but Holden was still named Bolton’s Player of the Year.

He returned to action in September 2011, but after playing 90 minutes against Aston Villa in the League Cup (and being named Man of the Match), he was ordered to undergo an arthroscopic follow-up procedure that would sideline him for six weeks. When that procedure revealed cartilage damage, the club announced that Holden would need further surgery and would have to miss six more months. Bolton, meanwhile, was relegated following the 2011-12 season—their first time below the top flight in 11 years.

So yesterday’s appearance—his first in 16 months—was a big deal, for Holden, for Bolton, and for the U.S. national team, which begins the final round of qualifying for Brazil 2014 next month.

All of the above are hoping that Holden’s tweet this morning—that he’s “back for good this time”—holds true.




If It Wasn’t for Bad Luck, Stuart Holden Wouldn’t Have No Luck At All

Yesterday, we posted about U.S. and Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden’s latest setback, which was that he needed follow-up surgery on the knee he injured six months ago.

The initial word was that Holden would miss just six weeks of action following the procedure, but the news went from bad to worse after doctors began the operation late Wednesday night.

They discovered cartilage damage that will keep the 26-year-old midfielder sidelined for the next six months.

This latest blow is devastating for the player (and for Bolton and the U.S.), and it’s also part of a disturbing trend in Holden’s career, dating back to 2005, when he left Clemson University after his sophomore year to go on trial with Sunderland.

Let’s break down the bad breaks:

March 2005—Just weeks after joining Sunderland, Holden was attacked outside a bar in Newcastle and suffered a broken eye socket that kept him out of action for two months.

May 2005—Holden returned to training with the Black Cats, only to injure his ankle and miss the rest of the season.

March 2010—After establishing himself at Bolton and signing a new three-year deal with the club, Holden was set to play a big role for the U.S. at South Africa 2010. Then he had his leg broken by Nigel de Jong of the Netherlands in a March 3 friendly.

• March 2011—In the midst of his best season ever, Holden was consistently the highest-rated player for Bolton—until he clashed with Jonny Evans in a sliding tackle at Old Trafford on March 19. He suffered a torn ACL and a gash that required 26 stitches.

Sept 2011 —Eight days after returning from the six-month layoff for the knee injury … Holden was dealt this latest blow.

Stuart Holden—born under a bad sign.

This Week In Stuart Holden-Can’t-Catch-A-Break News…

U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden, who required 26 stitches and a knee operation after the above challenge with Manchester United’s Jonny Evans six months ago, has learned that he needs follow-up surgery and will miss an additional six weeks.

Club doctors had originally targeted next summer for the operation, but decided it needed to be moved up.

Holden had just returned from the initial injury, appearing in an FA Cup game against Aston Villa last Tuesday, with the Guardian writing of his performance:

“The visitors [Bolton] certainly looked the hungrier side in the early stages. Stuart Holden, making his return after six months out injured, looked as though he had never been away, and his distribution, along with Fabrice Muamba’s physicality, gave Bolton a clear edge in midfield, where Villa looked distinctly lightweight.”

Holden broke his leg in March 2010 after a nasty challenge by the Netherlands’ Nigel de Jong and saw limited playing time at South Africa 2010 as a result.

If there’s a silver lining in Holden’s bad luck with injuries, it’s the attitude he’s developed in response. Here he is on Twitter after the latest setback:

“Obviously I’m disappointed as I’ve worked so hard the last six months, but in the grand scale of things it’s only a minor blip.”

The blip will keep him out of the U.S.’s October friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador.

Dempsey Sets Record, Holden Hurt: Yanks-In-England Weekend Wrap

You may have seen the clip of the studs-up challenge from Manchester United defender Jonny Evans that gashed Stuart Holden’s knee on Saturday. (See it here.) The play sent Holden to the hospital for 26 stitches and will sideline the American midfielder for up to six months.

To us it seemed like Evans came in a little too hard and with his studs up, but Holden also crashed into the 50-50 tackle. It was a case of neither player wanting look like he was ducking out of anything, and unfortunately, Holden is going to miss the rest of the Premier League season—which includes an FA Cup semifinal for Bolton—along with this summer’s Gold Cup, because of it. Holden was scheduled to depart today to join the U.S. national team ahead of its March 26 friendly against Argentina.

It’s a tough blow, and it’s the second consecutive March that Holden has suffered a serious injury. (Last year, Dutch defender Nigel de Jong fractured Holden’s leg with a reckless tackle.)

One name that hasn’t been much mentioned in this is that of Holden’s Bolton teammate Lee Chung-Yong, an excellent player whose overly weighted pass led Holden into the clattering challenge with Evans. We had a coach who called passes like that ‘hospital balls.’ Lee’s was a textbook example.

In better news, U.S. attacker Clint Dempsey set a record for most goals in a Premier League season by an American when he scored his 10th of the year in a 2-1 loss to Everton on Saturday, zipping one past U.S teammate Tim Howard in the Everton goal (click here for highlight).

Dempsey surpassed the record of former U.S. international Brian McBride, who twice scored nine goals in a Premier League campaign.

At Villa Park, veteran U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel started and went the distance in Aston Villa’s 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton. American midfielder Michael Bradley dressed but did not play for the Villans. Ditto U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann for Wolves.

The loss keeps Villa in the thick of the extremely crowded relegation fight with 33 points. Wigan sits in last place with 30, and there are currently eight teams with 33 points or fewer, with eight games to play.

U.S. defender/midfielder Jonathan Spector did not dress for West Ham’s 0-0 draw with Tottenahm at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

American-German midfielder Jermaine Jones played the full 90 in Blackburn’s 2-2 tie with Blackpool.

The quote of the week comes from ever-reliable Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, after his team’s win at Aston Villa, in which the home manager Gerard Houllier heard it from the crowd:

“You didn’t have to be the brightest light on the Christmas tree to recognize there was some tension amongst the crowd. I don’t like to hear any manager get hostility towards them but I would prefer it to be him or 18 other managers rather than me! It comes with the job.”

Bradley Debuts, Holden Sparkles, Altidore Do-Si-Do’s: Yanks-Abroad Weekend Wrap

On a weekend in which Wayne Rooney stole the show with what he called the best goal of his career—a bicycle kick into the top corner that gave Manchester United a 2-1 win over Man City—Americans in Europe made some key contributions of their own.

Leading the way was Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden, who set up Wanderers first goal in a 2-0 win over Tim Howard’s Everton on Sunday. Holden sent a 10th-minute free kick into the box, where it was headed home by Gary Cahill.

After Daniel Sturridge made it 2-0 for Bolton in the 66th minute, Holden thought he’d added a third in the 80th, burying a back heel from Sturridge. But the goal was waved off as the ref ruled that Sturridge had played the ball from beyond the endline.

Michael Bradley made his first appearance for Aston Villa, helping the 10-man Villans preserve a 1-1 tie against Blackpool with 18 minutes of defensive-midfield work.

U.S. keeper Brad Friedel started and went the distance for Villa.

Recently capped American midfielder Jermaine Jones played the full 90 for Blackburn in a scoreless draw with Newcastle on Saturday. In the early stages, Jones attempted to replicate Rooney’s golazo with a bike of his own, but … was whistled for a high kick on Newcastle defender Mike Williamson.

Jonathan Spector continued his recovery from a recent injury, logging 12 minutes in West Ham’s comeback from a 3-0 halftime deficit to West Brom. The Hammers got a second-half goal from Carlton Cole and two from Demba Ba—who was making his first start—to share the points.

Marcus Hahnemann dressed but did not play in Wolverhampton’s 2-0 loss to Arsenal on Saturday, and Clint Dempsey and Fulham host Fulham today.

In other Yanks-Abroad news, Aston Villa defender Eric Lichaj started and went the distance in the first appearance of his loan deal with second-tier Leeds United, helping his new team to a 2-0 win over Bristol City.

On-loan Villa keeper Brad Guzan played 90 minutes and made four saves in Hull City’s 1-0 win over Preston North End, which suited up U.S. striker Eddie Johnson for a goalless 90 minutes.

In Germany, 20-year-old U.S.-eligible attacker Timothy Chandler scored a goal and set up another in Nurnberg’s 4-1 romp over Stuttgart. It was the first professional goal for Chandler, who has yet to play internationally for any country, but is eligible for the U.S. and Germany, where his American father served for the U.S. military.

Steve Cherundolo played the full 90 on Sunday for Hannover 96—who are currently sitting fourth in the Bundesliga, one point shy of a Champions League berth—in a 1-1 tie with Werder Bremen.

DaMarcus Beasley did not dress for Hannover. (MLS return for Run DMB? We’d recommend it.)

Former Houston Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark did not suit up for Eintracht Frankfurt’s 3-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. He’s out with a fractured cheekbone.

Edson Buddle played 65 minutes in Bundesliga 2 side Ingolstadt’s 3-1 loss to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday.

Finally, in Turkey, Jozy Altidore debuted for Bursaspor and helped create his team’s goal in a 1-1 draw with Eskisehirspor.

Picking up the ball in midfield, Altidore made a surging run and pulled off a Gretzky-esque spin-o-rama move around a defender before laying the ball off to a teammate on the wing. The ensuing cross was cleared to 25 yards, where Bursaspor’s Serbian midfielder Ivan Ergic met it with a drive into the back of the net.

Dempsey Bags Two, Spector One, Jones Is Man of the Match: Yanks-In-England Weekend Wrap

It was a big weekend for Americans in the Premier League as Clint Dempsey scored both goals in Fulham’s 2-0 win over Stoke City, Jonathan Spector buried one in West Ham’s 2-2 draw with Everton, and new U.S. national teamer Jermaine Jones went the distance and was named Man of the Match in his debut for Blackburn, which downed West Brom 2-0.

Jones is on loan from German side Schalke 04, and his first performance in England drew praise from Blackburn manager Steve Kean, who said of his new signee, “He’s not even fully fit, but he’s got everything.”

Dempsey’s goals were his team-leading eighth and ninth of the season. They pulled the Cottagers further out of the relegation zone, and got us wondering—as rumors of Deuce transferring to Liverpool resurfaced this week—how productive Dempsey might be if he played for a “big four” team. We may find out before he’s done over there.

Erstwhile defender Spector continued to shine in a midfield role, scoring his fourth goal in all competitions from that spot this season. He beat U.S. teammate Tim Howard with a side footed shot into the roof of the net to give the last-place Hammers a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute.

West Ham held a 2-1 lead into injury time and were on the verge of a desperately needed three points—until Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini found a late equalizer.

Click here to see Dempsey’s and Spector’s goals.

At Villa Park on Saturday, U.S. keeper Brad Friedel, who is facing bankruptcy after investing millions in a soccer academy in his native Ohio, put aside his personal woes to make several key saves and preserve Aston Villa’s huge 1-0 win over third-place Manchester City.

Friedel backstopped Villa to another win today—a 2-1 victory at Wigan that put more distance between the Villans and the drop zone.

Yesterday at the Reebok Stadium, U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden and Bolton fell to Chelsea 4-0. Holden started and played 87 minutes. Bolton has tumbled to 10th in the standings after their bright start, having claimed just eight points from their last 10 games.

Yanks in England: Dempsey Scores, Helps Fulham Bag Crucial Three Points

U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season (in 19 starts) on Tuesday, burying the second for Fulham in a 3-0 win over West Brom.

Click here for the highlights.

And check out Fulham fans serenading the man from Nacogdoches:

(All together now: “He scores with his left!/ He scores with his right!/That boy Clint Dempsey/ Makes Drogba look shite!”)

The win lifted the Cottagers out of the relegation zone and all the way up to 14th place. That’s a helpful boost, for sure, but the bottom half of the table is absurdly crowded: just five points separate Everton in 11th place and West Ham in 20th.

Speaking of those two clubs, Everton snatched a valuable three points from visiting Tottenham yesterday, winning 2-1, while West Ham was thrashed 5-0 at Newcastle.

U.S. keeper Tim Howard made several saves in Everton’s win, including a brilliant denial of Rafael Van der Vaart from six yards. The game was a cracking, back-and-forth affair, won by Seamus Coleman’s diving header in the 75th minute.

Jonathan Spector dressed but did not play for West Ham, which plunged further into relegation trouble with the loss. The Hammers have played one more game than all of their fellow drop-zone denizens, yet trail all on points as well.

Aston Villa and Brad Friedel fell 1-0 at home to Sunderland, on Phil Bardsley’s 80th-minute winner. Friedel started and went the distance. Young U.S. defender Eric Lichaj dressed but did not play, while Yank keeper Brad Guzan is on loan to Hull.

Villa fell into the drop zone with their loss to the Black Cats, thanks to Wolverhampton’s stunning 1-0 upset of Chelsea on Jose Bosingwa’s fourth-minute own goal. Wolves jumped over Villa on goal difference with the shocker. American netminder Marcus Hahnemann dressed but did not play for Wolves.

Hey, when you’re missing the best player in the league from your lineup, your results are going to suffer, and that’s just what’s happening to Bolton following Stuart Holden’s injury in the Chelsea match at the end of December.

The U.S. midfielder missed Bolton’s next game, a loss to Liverpool, and yesterday, he sat out his team’s home match against Wigan, and Wanderers produced another underwhelming result: a 1-1 tie against the relegation battlers.

Bolton did dominate the game, but couldn’t finish the several chances they created after 19-year-old Rodrigo Moreno’s 54th minute opener. (Dutchman Ronnie Stam tied it for Wigan ten minutes from time.)

The Premier League is off this weekend for FA Cup third-round matches.