The 27-year-old midfielder missed most of the past two seasons due to injury, but he took a major step forward by coming off the bench as the Trotters reached the fourth round.
Marvin Sordell's two goals were enough to give Bolton a cushion over the Black Cats, and Holden, who proved his fitness in a reserve game last week, was given a run out by manager Dougie Freedman, entering in the 74th minute. Fellow American Tim Ream was an unused substitute for the Trotters, who advanced to the fourth round and will meet Tim Howard's Everton.
The 27-year-old Holden made an instant impression after signing for Bolton Wanderers in 2010, being named the club's player of the season for 2010-11. A serious right knee injury after a collision with Manchester United's Jonny Evans in March 2011 ended his season and led to frustrating setbacks. He briefly returned in the fall of 2011 only to spend the ensuring 15 months on the sideline recovering from his knee injury. In Holden's absence, Bolton was relegated from the Premier League after the 2011-12 season and manager Owen Coyle was dismissed earlier this season in favor of Freedman.
A former Houston Dynamo standout, the Scotland-born Holden made his USA debut in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup and was on the USA roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.