Ryan Hollingshead has played almost every position for FC Dallas in the last year – midfielder, defender and now goalkeeper.
When starting keeper Jesse Gonzalez went down injured in the 87th minute against Toronto on Saturday, Dallas had already used all three of their substitutions and it was Hollingshead who strapped on the gloves and closed out the game.
“My little brother grew up as a goalie, so we played together all the time and he taught me everything,” Hollingshead said. “He was like ‘Alright, you just gotta do this, this and this,’ and I said ‘Alright, I feel confident in goal if I need to,’ but the chances of ever being in that position are very thin.”
“Not even in training,” head coach Oscar Pareja said laughing when asked about Hollingshead’s experience in goal. “It’s very awkward to see one of your players - your field players - in the goal mouth. That says a lot of things also, because he responded well in a couple plays that he needed to play the position.”
When it became apparent that Gonzalez wouldn’t be able to continue, it was Zach Loyd who initially appeared to be answering the call, reaching for the green jersey and gloves – but Hollingshead knew he was the man for the job.
“We talked about it a few weeks ago, just sitting at the lunch table, about in a case like this where we’re out of subs and a goalie goes down, and I don’t know if we jinxed it or what, but it was between him in Walker,” said goalkeeper Chris Seitz. “At that point we were chasing the game, so we moved Walker high and put him in. He definitely did well with it.”
“Once they started to bring that stretcher out, Zach made the move of ‘We’ve got to get this game started again, we’re down a goal and there’s three minutes left in the game, we’ve got to get it going.’” Hollingshead said. “I could see from across the field that they were having that conversation, and once I saw they were putting Walker up top and Zach was talking about having the gloves, I was like ‘Oh I gotta do this,’ so I ran over and felt confident. I think Zach felt confident as well, but I felt like if someone’s going to be in there, I can take this.”
And take it he did. In the few minutes of playing time he saw, Hollingshead denied a bouncing free kick from reigning Golden Boot-winner Sebastian Giovinco, and made a diving stop on a Will Johnson chance that was eventually whistled offside.
He played so well, Seitz was waiting to break down the game film with the newest keeper on Monday before training.
“He needs to come in. He’s late right now. Keepers usually go out early and he’s not here right now,” Seitz said laughing. “He made a couple good saves and obviously he came right in for a goal kick and I was waiting for him to kick it long. He played short – I was a little bummed, I wanted to see his distance. I thought he handled it well. He made a good kick save, got caught leaning a little bit, but made a kick save on one that was either a handball or called offside.”
And Pareja, who’s championed Dallas’ versatility across the roster all season, was pleased to have even more choices on the field.
“That’s another point that makes me optimistic about the versatility we have on the field.”