FRISCO —The 2019 season has been a weird one for Ryan Hollingshead.
He, along with the rest of the team, has adjusted to a new head coach, and he’s played at just about every part of the pitch for FC Dallas — starting on both wings and every defensive position at some point this season.
Hollingshead was able to reflect on the year he’s had and his career during an interview with SiriusXM FC’s Jason Davis last Thursday before the team’s weekend trip to Vancouver. At that time, the team was coming off of back-to-back matches against Los Angeles FC within a four-day span — something Hollingshead had never experienced in his professional career.
With the team trying to balance the roster with injuries, international call-ups and fatigue, Hollingshead said it was a big challenge for FC Dallas to play with the right lineup during the second leg of the LAFC matchup. Even though it was a hectic weekend against the best team in MLS this season, Hollingshead said he enjoyed the challenge.
“I’ve been in the league for a long time, and I’ve never had anything like this where you play back-to-back games with only a three-day break in between,” Hollingshead said. “So, it was different. Honestly, it works out better in terms of being able to watch film and get the video on the team you’re against and be able to really prepare for that opponent.”
FCD fell in the first leg, 2-0 on the road, but came back to Dallas and responded well with a 1-1 draw against LAFC — and the team played with a man down for 41 minutes after Matt Hedges was given a red card. With Hedges out of the lineup, Hollingshead moved to left back after starting the game at left wing. He helped anchor the defense in a situation where a team relies on its veterans. FC Dallas only gave up one goal throughout the rest of the match, and it wasn’t until the 80th minute.
“We feel a little bit unlucky not walking away with the win there,” Hollingshead said. “We obviously had a good game and a really good first half, especially. Getting a red card early in the second half like we did, in the 50th minute — it’s really hard to close out a game with 40 minutes left in that game with a man down. We knew it would be a test. Our defense, though, really held strong and it was a whiffed shot by their forward that actually caused the handball in the box giving the PK to tie the game up. So, really unfortunate events.”
It was a tough test for a young team nearing the midway point of the season. With some key players unavailable due to various circumstances, Hollingshead said facing a team as good as LAFC and getting a quality result out of the home matchup shows how good the team can be.
“We’re looking more long-term in terms of getting ready for the MLS Cup at the end of the season,” Hollingshead said. “We’re putting in that work now and hoping to peak at the right time, hoping to get our style down at the right time, and hoping to get a good run going for the MLS Cup. I think even now at this point that we can beat any team in the league, and I think that we showed that with our game against LAFC. We should’ve come out with three points, even with a man down.”
One of FC Dallas’ goals this season is trying to create its own style of play and sticking to it no matter what. A team that wants more possession and control, FCD wants to pass the ball effectively and create chances using those passes.
Right now, the team’s focus is sticking to that tactic and continuing to gel with one another as the season progresses. The players know change isn’t going to be perfected overnight, but if the team gets hot at the right time, Hollingshead said he’s confident they can make a playoff run.
“We’re going after an ideal style of soccer, and that just takes time,” Hollingshead said. “That might mean a couple of losses in the meantime to get there, but the long-term consequence of that is a lot better.”
Two years removed from a career-threatening accident, Hollingshead said that time period has given him opportunities to sit back and appreciate the simpler things in life, which were almost taken from him.
Especially when things in life or in soccer get tough, Hollingshead said he always remembers to put his life into perspective and to be thankful for the sport that provides for his family.
“I’m extremely blessed, I think in the last two weeks we came out with a story about my anniversary of returning to play. I think it was really helpful to me and my heart in understanding, and kind of remembering, how it happened because it really does put you in your place in a sense. It reminds you of things that are more important that we take for granted every day, that I take for granted in being able to play this sport that I love.”
You can listen to Ryan Hollingshead interview on SiriusXM on demand (subscription required). "United States of Soccer" with Jason Davis airs every week day on SiriusXM FC channel 157 from 11am-1pm CT.