What could have been a landmark weekend in the seasons of three first-choice U.S. national team midfielders turned out to be nothing more than a wait-till-next-time occasion.
Jermaine Jones remained an afterthought at Schalke despite not being moved during the recent transfer window; Michael Bradley failed to see the field in his first game as a member of Chievo Verona in Italy; and Stuart Holden's anticipated comeback to Bolton's first team was put on hold for at least another week.
Jones' case is the most troubling of the bunch. According to reports out of Germany, Jones had stated his desire to remain at Schalke and be a part of the team moving forward, but it remains to be seen whether that feeling is reciprocated by his club after efforts to move him and his contract before the transfer deadline went unfulfilled.
He was nowhere to be found on the matchday lineup over the weekend against Wolfsburg and former Schalke manager/Jones nemesis Felix Magath, and he hasn't played a minute for Schalke since an Aug. 6 loss to Stuttgart. He was left off of U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann's roster for the friendlies against Costa Rica and Belgium in order to sort out his club situation, but that still looks like it is a work in progress. If things don't shape up in the next few weeks, he'll be in danger of missing out on the national team's October friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador, too.
Bradley's situation is hardly dire, especially considering his fresh move to Serie A. Despite his reputation for typically being in peak fitness, Bradley likely isn't yet match-fit for Chievo after being held in purgatory while with Borussia Monchengladbach for the opening weeks of the Bundesliga season. Once he gets more acclimated to the team and its system and finds his bearings, he should return to his accustomed regular playing role for both club and country.
For Holden, his first-team comeback on the club level really is just a matter of when. He played in his second Bolton reserve match this past week with Klinsmann in attendance, and he remains a favorite at Reebok Stadium after his standout showing last season. Although a place in Bolton's lineup was not in the cards for Saturday's Premier League match against Manchester United -- the same team Holden was playing when he suffered his injury in March -- he should have no problem reclaiming his place in the center of the park once Bolton's medical staff deems him ready.
"(Holden)'s had a lot of attention from all of the staff at Bolton, and he is without doubt in the best possible hands," Klinsmann said on Bolton's official website following Holden's 65-minute stint against Rochdale. "They're treating him wonderfully well and doing all they can to get him back on track, which is nice to see.
"He's getting closer and closer, but I'm not looking to get him in United States squad as soon as possible. He's certainly in my plans, but I'm sure I'm one of many who don't want to rush him back. We'll follow what Bolton want, because they know him best. I'll be in contact with Owen (Coyle, Bolton manager), and I'm sure we'll have plenty of dialogue over the coming months."
The weekend did provide an opportunity for one player trying to work his way back into the national-team picture, though, as centerback Oguchi Onyewu earned his first start with Sporting Lisbon and played the entire match in his first game action since an exhibition against Juventus in the World Football Challenge on July 23.
Despite being shut out on the scoresheet across the globe, here is how the Americans playing abroad fared over the past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):