Gold Cup 2013 final

U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden gets a ride on the back of defender Omar Gonzalez as they celebrate the U.S.' win in the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer final over Panama in July. (Tannen Maury / European Pressphoto Agency / July 28, 2013)

Before Tuesday's closed practice at StubHub Center in Carson, U.S. national team Coach Juergen Klinsmann gathered his team together at midfield to introduce a familiar face.

"Welcome back, Stu!" Klinsmann said enthusiastically. The players responded with a round of applause for Stuart Holden, whose return to training marked a significant step forward in his comeback from the right anterior cruciate ligament tear he sustained in July's Gold Cup final, the last of eight games he played for the U.S. in 2013.

That was the third serious knee injury Holden has suffered in four years. But by rejoining the national team -- albeit on a limited basis -- Holden showed he hasn't given up on this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Holden, 28, was cleared by doctors to train with the national team but he is considered a "guest" in Klinsmann's January camp, where his activities will be limited and closely watched.

The midfielder will not suit up for Saturday's friendly wiith South Korea at the StubHub Center.

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