Marshall Hollingsworth embraces second year on loan with Hounds

Marshall Hollingsworth embraces second year on loan with Hounds

June 8, 2017 | By Rachael McKriger

Marshall Hollingsworth really doesn’t watch a lot of soccer.

He gets enough playing it. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t study up on the sport. He enjoys watching good soccer, so he doesn’t claim a team. Hollingsworth mentioned that teammate Nick Thompson is always watching soccer, so he’ll join up if it’s a good game.

His passion for the sport when he’s on the pitch is undeniable. Hollingsworth gives his all for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds each match, and each practice.

This is the second year with the club, as he was brought on loan from the Columbus Crew SC. Last year was his rookie season and in his second season a lot has changed.

This year, Hollingsworth understands what’s it’s like to be a professional and live a professional lifestyle. Last year, he noted, it took him a while to adjust.

“I think coming into the second year, I had a much stronger mentality,” Hollingsworth said. “I’ve learned to enjoy it, and I’ve learned to love this lifestyle. At times it was difficult last season, but this year it’s been much smoother, much easier. I think I’ve come to better terms on what this profession is – and it’s been awesome.”

Hollingsworth enjoying his pregame warmup with the Hounds

Another difference from Hollingsworth this year is his demeanor on the pitch. Last season, Hollingsworth described himself as “erratic” and afraid to make mistakes. However, he learned through experienced midfielders like Kevin Kerr, Michael Green and Stephen Okai that making mistakes is part of learning.

“I think the important thing that I’ve learned from them is that it’s about your head, and how you control yourself and your emotions,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s long seasons, and hopefully long careers. We’re all going to go out and make mistakes, but it’s about how you handle yourself and how you stay composed on the field. They told me to relax and quickly get back into it and rebound.”

Like last year, Hollingsworth is a regular starter for the Riverhounds. This season, under head coach Dave Brandt, he is one of nine returning players. Now, he sees himself as more of a leader – especially to the younger players.

“I think that this season I’m more of a leader on this team, in the locker room and on the field,” Hollingsworth said. “I would say that I’m more comfortable leading this year than I was last season. I think I can help out some of the younger guys, since that was me last year.”

On the pitch, he leads with his presence and versatility. As a regular starter, he calls being able to play in each game a “privilege.”

“Honestly, you take that for granted sometimes,” Hollingsworth said. “You get frustrated with the game, and when you get taken out of the game. That’s because we’re all competitive, but at the end of the day I’m getting minutes, I’m getting to play and it’s a privilege. It’s been a blast and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always try to work to be a starter, and I hope I can continue it this season.”

That’s why Hollingsworth was excited to feature again for the Riverhounds this season. At the Columbus Crew SC, where he was drafted with the No. 41 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, he knew he wasn’t going to get a ton of minutes.

“I know that here, I’ll get decent minutes and that’s really important for me as a player,” Hollingsworth noted. “At first I was a little bummed, because of course you’re always going to want to get minutes with Columbus. However for me, I’m here to develop, so I was excited.”

He did appear for the club in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last season, where he scored his first goal against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a 4-1 win. This year, the Crew will use Hollingsworth in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup again – a tournament which the Riverhounds have officially been eliminated from.

“That was super fun,” Hollingsworth said with a smile. “It was a blast, and it was good to play with those guys, because I do have friends there. It was a challenge, and I challenged myself, and showed what I can bring to that team. “

However, his focus is on the Riverhounds right now. Hollingsworth primarily features in the midfield for the club, but has also played a mixture of left back.

“Last year was the first year that I actually played on the backline,” Hollingsworth said. “It was different, because I enjoy getting in on the attack. I don’t mind later in games being dropped back there to lock things down. It’s always fun to chase balls down, and chase players down. It’s hard to adjust, but it’s fun to be versatile.”

His versatility has earned Hollingsworth plenty of respect with his teammates, men that he counts himself to be close with. When he’s not on the pitch, Hollingsworth spends time bonding around Pittsburgh with his teammates.

“I live in South Side with a couple of the others guys and we just like to ride bikes into the city, read by the fountain, throw the football around, go get coffee and we grill almost every day,” Hollingsworth said. “We try to be outside as much as we can. We watch some TV shows, and sometimes go to the bars and watch the local sports games.”

Hollingsworth, who will be graduating from Wheaton College in October with a degree in business economics, said that no matter what, soccer or not, he has his friends, family and faith to lean on.

“I try to just remind myself before each game that every day is a blessing,” Hollingsworth said. “To be able to come out here and play soccer for a living – I mean how amazing is that? I just take it as that everyday is a blessing, and that for me, I am a soccer player, but at the end of the day, I’m a son of God. That helps me relax when it comes to soccer and brings me peace. Even if I’m not playing soccer, I do have meaning and purpose in this world, and that’s to love others and impact people’s lives.”

Hollingsworth and his teammates will feature against Toronto FC II on Saturday in Ontario. The match will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

Mike Sparks

In addition to watching, coaching, and occasionally playing soccer, Mike also enjoys talking all things soccer over at the Mon Goals podcast. Go give the show a listen and let him know what you think