Honduras player Andy Najar and United States midfielder Stuart Holden battle for control of the ball during the first half of last week’s Gold Cup semifinals at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
CHICAGO — Stuart Holden’s run of major injuries just won’t stop.
The U.S. national team midfielder tore his right anterior cruciate ligament early in the Americans’ 1-0 victory over Panama in the Gold Cup final on Sunday.
He will consult with the medical staffs of U.S. Soccer and of the Bolton Wanderers, his England-based club, to formulate a treatment plan.
“We are absolutely devastated for Stuart,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “He is such a great part of our team on the field and the locker room. He worked tremendously hard to recover from previous injuries and had really come back into form.
“He was fully prepared to head back to Bolton and challenge for a starting spot. Now he will have our full support as he goes down this road again, and we will be with him every step of the way.”
Holden collided with Panama’s Alberto Quintero and took a knock on his left knee 18 minutes into the first half, but he grabbed his right knee after he hit the ground.
Trainers worked with him briefly on the field before he got off and walked to the sideline, where they continued to work on him. As Holden sat on the bench, his head buried in his hands, teammates patted him on the head and shoulders trying to console him.
He walked to the locker room a short time later, and was limping visibly when he rejoined his teammates for the victory ceremony. He later posted a photo of himself on Twitter drinking from the Gold Cup trophy.
“I will rise again!” Holden said Monday on Twitter. “Big love and thx to all the (at)officialbwfc and (at)ussoccer supporters, we will conquer once more. Lets do this (hash)noholdenback”
Holden’s recent history has been a painful one. He broke his right leg on a vicious tackle by the Netherlands’ Nigel de Jong in March 2010.
He hurt his left knee against Manchester United from Jonny Evans’ tackle a year later. Holden returned from surgery for a League Cup match against Aston Villa that September, then needed more surgery eight days later. He was out until January of this year, returning for three substitute appearances for Bolton, then four starts during a one-month loan to Sheffield on Wednesday, and another last-minute cameo for Bolton.
All the while, he kept the faith that he could be a part of the U.S. team as it tried to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
Although he has not been in a final-round qualifier, Holden got back on the national squad, making his first appearance in more than two years when he entered as a substitute on May 29 against Belgium.
He was on the field for the entire 90 minutes of a Gold Cup group-round victory over Costa Rica.
Now, he faces the unenviable challenge of yet another long recovery. Usually, a torn ACL’s minimum recovery time is six months. The World Cup begins next June.
Ecuadorian soccer star dies in Qatar after game
DOHA, Qatar — Christian Benitez, a soccer star from Ecuador who led the Mexican league in scoring last season, died Monday a day after playing in a game for his club in Qatar. He was 27.
The Qatari club El Jaish provided no details about the death but said Benitez did not complain about his health Sunday. The team is awaiting a medical report.
El Jaish played Qatar Sports in the Sheik Jassim Cup, a warmup tournament for the upcoming season. The club said this was Benitez’s first game with his new team.
The game was played in hot and humid conditions typical of the Persian Gulf this time of year. Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup and the searing heat has prompted many in soccer to call for the tournament to be moved to winter.
Benitez, a powerful striker, joined El Jaish after helping his Mexican club America win the championship last season.
“He was a player that over the short period he was here was regarded for his high moral character,” El Jaish said in a statement.
Benitez had 24 goals in 58 appearances for Ecuador and was on its 2006 World Cup team. He also scored against Chile in the 2007 Copa America and had four goals during qualifying for the 2014 World Cup
Benitez also spent a season in England with Birmingham. In Mexico, he played with one of the country’s most popular teams. On its website the team mourned “one of the most recent America idols, and shares the sorrow felt by the entire Benitez Betancourt family, and the sport in Mexico, Ecuador and the world.”MORE IN Sports Wire
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