FRISCO, Texas — The first place to look for leadership on a team is a captain. Part of the role as a captain is to provide moments of being a leader and being the coach on the field, talking to refs and being a calming force.
For FC Dallas, leadership comes from the co-captains, Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler. However, it’s not just limited to those two players, as exemplified by Ryan Hollingshead’s veteran presence during his pre-game speeches on the pitch. Seen in FCDallas.com’s Year One series, Hollingshead is seen in a huddle, telling players some last instructions before breaking out into their respective positions.
“He always has done the speech before the game, out on the field before we’re about to play,” Hedges said. “That’s been his thing. He does that every time and we want him to do that. He likes doing that; it’s kinda how it’s been for a while.”
Hollingshead’s six years with FC Dallas has given him valuable experience to be another leader on the team. In the midst of a playoff push and a difficult run of matches, the veteran likes talking about whatever is on his mind during a match. Hollingshead did that when the team was down in Montreal, not letting their heads drop. FCD eventually came back from three goals down to draw the match.
“I’ve been here for a long time, so I have a lot of thoughts and I have a lot of ideas and sometimes I get passionate, fiery and I want to share those,” Hollingshead said. “I’m not captain here but I see myself as a veteran and a leader on this team so I’ll step into those spaces when I feel like, either it’s necessary or I have something passionate to be said.”
The speech can change depending on the situation. Hollingshead spoke before the FC Cincinnati match to tell the team about the importance of a win and is ready to get the victory. It’s never anything planned, just something that comes out more organically.
“It just comes out,” Hollingshead said. “You can’t plan that stuff out. If you ever try to, you can tell. It doesn’t feel very organic. You just go with what you got.”
Hollingshead’s season has backed up his speeches, leading defenders across Major League Soccer with six goals and providing a dynamic attack from the fullback position. While a relatively young team, FC Dallas has it’s share of veterans that can provide experience during these last five matches, including midfielder Bryan Acosta, centerback Bressan, Michael Barrios, Zdenek Ondrasek, and more.
Coach Luchi Gonzalez embraces the idea of having multiple leaders. He’s a first-year coach himself and knows that this last push will require more than just two players motivating the team through tough and even positive times.
“There’s different depths and moments of leadership for the team,” Gonzalez said. “A good team, a balanced team, is a team that doesn’t depend on one leader. They don’t depend on one coach, one captain, one leading goal scorer. It’s a team that has moments of being a head coach to direct or to ask a question or a player to direct and challenge a teammate and team. Those moments, that’s what the team reads.
“Ryan is reading moments to be a vocal piece, to be a piece that leads by example and action. He’s having a really positive year on and off the field. He’s had some challenges in his career and that’s a great example for our young players coming through, who are going to learn from that.”