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LAFC 2022 Player Postmortem: Ryan Hollingshead

Veteran helped lift the level for champions.

MLS: Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Finals-Austin FC at Los Angeles FC Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

After Steven Beitashour left LAFC, there had been a rotating door of right backs, but stability wasn’t found until the club reloaded with two veterans, including Ryan Hollingshead.

The California native had spent his entire career with FC Dallas, carving out a niche as one of the most consistent right backs on a good team. No offense to FCD at all, but Hollingshead continually went under the radar around MLS, likely owing to where he was playing.

Hollingshead joined LAFC in a trade for Marco Farfan. It was firmly a “now vs. later” deal, Farfan is far younger and has much more career ahead of him, but Hollingshead was close enough to his peak as a player and LAFC needed MLS experience, badly, especially at right back. With the club also acquiring former Atlanta United right back Franco Escobar, Hollingshead spent some time early in the season at left back to spell Diego Palacios, his versatility ensuring he was getting playing time from the jump.

But as Escobar dealt with some injuries along the way, while the players certainly did share playing time, Hollingshead emerged to be the first option for Steve Cherundolo at his former position. In addition to playing smart on the defensive side, Hollingshead matched a career high with six regular season goals in 2022, co-leading among defenders in MLS in scoring, and fifth on LAFC overall in goals.

Here’s Hollingshead’s competitive stats with LAFC for 2022:

Ryan Hollingshead LAFC 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 30 22 1,928 6 1 23 11 3 1
U.S. Open Cup 3 1 138 1 0 2 2 1 0
Playoffs 3 3 300 0 1 2 1 0 0
Total 36 26 2,366 7 2 27 14 4 1

Hollingshead’s best game was probably when he scored a brace in a comeback win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. He was feeling it in attack all night long for the black-and-gold.

It wasn’t just his attacking production that was strong, Hollingshead was also a good defender. The advanced stats support his all-around good game. ASA’s Goals-added metric for 2022 put him at +1.99, 27th in MLS among outfield players, fourth among LAFC players, and best in the league among fullbacks.

And his scouting report graph shows elite production in scoring and on aerials, and quite strong otherwise.

I think his body of work shows he is capable of playing at a higher level, but at this point in his career, it’s pretty clear he will be an MLS lifer. Hollingshead may not be the first name you think of when you look back on LAFC’s Supporters’ Shield-MLS Cup season, but he was a key player throughout, and exactly the kind of player who helped raise LAFC’s floor enough to make this year a success for the club. As far as good domestic players goes, he’s a keeper.

And fortunately Hollingshead had a fine time with LAFC and even though he was a Free Agent this offseason (and I know there was competition for his signature, from some top teams in MLS) he signed a new three-year deal to take him through the 2025 season with LAFC. He may already be in his 30s, but if he can stay healthy, it’s certainly not inconceivable he remains starter-level for most or all of the life of his contract, and his ability to play left back as well should help him see playing time even with other options on the roster.

So there were a lot of important players for LAFC in 2022, but I think Hollingshead exceeded expectations as a versatile fullback who had quite a knack for producing in the attack while not neglecting his defensive duties. With the black-and-gold looking to hunt more trophies, Hollingshead will likely remain a building block for the squad for the foreseeable future.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.