With one unfortunate tackle, Stuart Holden's breakout season is over.
With about 15 minutes remaining in Bolton's 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday, Holden and Jonny Evans both went for a loose ball, sliding to the ground at the same moment. Holden's upper leg and Evans' studs clashed in a gruesome meeting.
The result for Evans was a straight red card. The result for Holden was a gash above his left knee that required 26 stitches and a further undisclosed diagnosis (along with surgery) that will reportedly keep Holden on the sidelines for the next six months.
Holden had established himself as one of the top ball-winning midfielders in the Premier League while helping Bolton to a steady place in top half of the league table all season.
"Stuart has been outstanding for me this season and he has shown in his performances that he is one of the best midfielders in the Barclays Premier League," Bolton manager Owen Coyle told the team's official website. "He has such desire, strength of character and a winning mentality, and he will draw on all those attributes in his rehabilitation."
For the second consecutive summer, Holden will be forced to be a spectator during a premier international competition. Save for a late cameo against England, Holden was a constant on the U.S. bench during the World Cup while still recuperating from a broken leg after being on the wrong end of a horrid challenge by Dutchman Nigel De Jong in a friendly last March.
He was expected to play a big role in the United States' upcoming friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay and during this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, perhaps even as a starting central midfielder. Instead, he can only hope he won't miss too much time at the start of the 2011-2012 Premier League campaign.
One American whose role at the Gold Cup might grow even more with Holden's absence is Clint Dempsey, who is enjoying a record-breaking season at Fulham. He topped Brian McBride's record for goals by an American in a single Premier League season when he beat international teammate and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard over the weekend for his 10th league goal.
Among the other highlights for Americans over the weekend included Freddy Adu scoring his second goal in Turkey, defender Zak Whitbread scoring his first goal in more than two years, Chris Rolfe seeing his first action in almost a year and Maurice Edu and Rangers winning some silverware. Here's how the Americans playing abroad fared this past week (statistics encompass all competitions):