For as many players on the FC Dallas roster whom we seem to never know what to expect of when they take the pitch, the exact opposite can be said of Ryan Hollingshead. The do-it-all veteran’s fifth year in Frisco brought about his lowest minutes total since his debut season, yet we probably have a more clear picture of his fit on this team than ever before.
Ryan scored his first goal and notched his first assists since the 2016 season, including a helper on Tesho Akindele’s game-tying goal in the incredible comeback against Atlanta on Independence Day. He finished with three assists on the year, matching his career-best from 2015. Other than completing 80 percent of his passes, much of Hollingshead’s duties beyond his seven starts were as a late-game defensive substitute as 10 of his 12 appearances off the bench coming within the game’s final 20 minutes.
Game That Best Sums Up Ryan
While we don’t normally expect offensive explosions from Ryan, he had a hand in two of his team’s three goals in their 3-2 victory on the road against the Galaxy in May.
This is an excellent goal as Hollingshead is able to receive the ball cleanly, turn himself and fire it into the top corner with three defenders bearing down on him. Skill needed, skill delivered.
Soon after, Hollingshead showed us the crux of his ability as an overlapping full back when he ran on Mauro Diaz’ flank perfectly and delivered a pinpoint-accurate cross — off his first touch, mind you.
He also had a goal line clearance just to remind us he can hold his own defensively, too.
I know that statistically, this game was an outlier for Ryan, but it’s also the best example of what type of lineup and tactics complement his game best. I can explain why, but my colleague Jason Poon did a much better job of explaining what he adds to this team than I ever could following that win.
I really hope, and am relatively confident, Hollingshead returns next season. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t unless he’s taken in the expansion draft. At just $145,000, he’s a financial gem knowing that even if he doesn’t eclipse 1,000 minutes, he can slot in at either fullback position as well on the left wing when needed, where he provides solid speed, crossing ability and defensive instincts to the position.
I also think we can’t overlook the impact he has on the team in terms of morale and IQ. He reads the game exceptionally well, which serves the team especially well when it comes to preserving a lead late or rubbing off on the many young faces in training each day. Knowing the mental issues this team faced in the back half of 2017 and down the stretch this year, the value of having cooler heads like Ryan around is immeasurable.