WAG of the Week: Karalyn West

West-Legs

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:

KWest

 

Happy Friday, all.

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

StuBoat!

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.”