CARSON, Calif. – While the focus here in Southern California remains on the 22 U.S. national team campers in contention for a role in the upcoming friendly against South Korea, developments surrounding three players who won’t factor in Saturday’s game emerged.
Hard-luck midfielder Stuart Holden was a surprise guest at Tuesday morning’s training session and will remain with the U.S. for the rest of the week at StubHub Center. Meanwhile, coach Jurgen Klinsmann updated the press on two potential World Cup starters based in Germany, Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones.
Stuart Holden surprises at training
The 28-year-old is fighting to return from yet another serious knee injury. It’s been six months since Holden tore the ACL in his right knee early in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, and he was in L.A. this week to meet with Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, a local surgeon and U.S. Soccer team physician.
While in town, Holden was invited to work out with the U.S. He’s been cleared to train lightly and isn’t on the roster for Saturday’s game. He spent Tuesday doing fitness and agility exercises and some ball work on his own.
Holden, who remains on the books at English second-tier club Bolton Wanderers, wasn’t made available to speak with media. This week he wrote on Twitter, “Hard work and dedication has me close 2 playing again soon.”
Later Tuesday, Holden told SI.com’s Grant Wahl that he was hoping to start playing for Bolton’s reserve team by late February.
Fabian Johnson on mend with broken hand
The winger suffered a broken right hand during the first half of TSG Hoffenheim’s loss to FC Nürnberg on Sunday. Initial reports suggested that the outside back, who also plays in midfield for Klinsmann, would miss several weeks. But Klinsmann said here that Johnson will be ready far sooner.
“I spoke with him [Monday] morning. Surgery done, has a couple of screws in there. All good,” Klinsmann said, adding that he thought Johnson might even play for Hoffenheim on Saturday while wearing a soft cast.
“The perfect thing is that it was really broken, clearly, so the surgery is all done and he’s going to be back on the field in 2-3 days.”
On Tuesday, Germany’s Kicker reported that Johnson will sit out the match vs. Hamburger SV and will resume training next week. The magazine also claimed that Hoffenheim has offered the 26-year-old a contract extension (his current deal expires this summer) but that Borussia Mönchengladbach is among “other clubs” interested in his services.
Jermaine Jones likely to stay in Europe, not join MLS
Klinsmann’s first-choice center midfielder also is playing under a deal that ends this summer, but unlike Johnson, Jones’ departure is a near certainty. After seven seasons at Schalke 04, the 32-year-old is on his way out and is hoping to secure a move during the current transfer window that might ensure he receives playing time heading into the World Cup.
“We’re in contact. He hasn’t solved his situation yet. He obviously has a deadline, the 31st of January, that’s what his people are working on with [Schalke], who have a clear understanding that he’s looking for a new club. There are some issues within that relationship. I can’t go deeper into that one,” Klinsmann said.
Jones has a house in the L.A. area and there have been whispers that he had an interest in playing in MLS, if the price was right.
Klinsmann all but ended that speculation.
“I don’t know [if he’ll head to MLS] but I don’t think so. More likely it’s another team in Europe," he revealed.
Klinsmann then said he was optimistic that Jones would find that team.
“Every player that doesn’t have a solution right now on the table is a concern,” the coach said. “So we want him to solve it. But he’s kind of used to these kind of situations here and there, when he goes through some arguments, and other times he solved it. So he has to solve it, obviously, this time as well, and has to do that [before February]. But we’re in touch and we’re positive he’ll find a good situation and then get back on the field and play, because that’s what we need the players to do.”