By IVES GALARCEP
CHICAGO– From the moment he hit the ground during Sunday’s Gold Cup Final, the immediate reaction to seeing Stuart Holden on the ground with an apparent knee injury was one of fear and concern for a player who has endured more heartbreaking injury calamities than any player should.
Holden left the U.S. team’s match vs. Panama in the 19th minute with what was initially being called a sprained right knee, but listening to Jurgen Klinsmann after the match, it was clear there was a strong belief that Holden’s injury was more than just a tweak or mild sprain.
“We are very concerned about Stewie’s situation. It looks like a very serious knee injury,” Klinsmann said of Holden’s injury. “But I’m not a doctor. I can’t confirm it. Wait until, hopefully, tomorrow. Things (will) maybe look better.
“He will get an MRI. He will get all the tests done,” Klinsmann said. “But Stewie is a player that, when something happens, he knows that something happened. Hopefully it’s not as bad, but it’s not looking good right now.”
The injury suffered on Sunday came after a collision with Panama’s Alberto Quintero, a collision that left him in pain with an injury to his right knee, not the surgically-repaired left knee that cost him a year and a half of action.
Holden took part in the U.S. team’s celebrations after the match, leading the team to the medal ceremony, and spending part of the celebration carried on the back of U.S. centerback Omar Gonzalez before limping the rest of the way. Afterwards, Holden walked through the interview area at Soldier Field with a look on his face that could be best described as devastated.
“He’s the soul of this team, he has been this trip,” said Landon Donovan, whose mood turned somber when asked about Holden. “We’re bummed for him.”
Holden will have his knee evaluated on Monday to determine the severity of the injury, but his reaction to the injury suggests that Holden firmly believes he is facing another long injury layoff, which would be devastating for a player who has already endured two lengthy injury layoffs in the past three years.
Holden missed the better part of a year and a half with a knee injury suffered after an ugly challenge from Manchester United defender Johnny Evans in 20111. Prior to that, Holden suffered a broken leg due to an ugly studs-up tackle from Dutch midfielder Nigel DeJong in May of 2010.