Ryan Hollingshead has five games to rally his teammates into making a mustached playoff run.
“I think I can get a couple guys,” Hollingshead said Friday. “If I get the whole team, wow, we’re winning the Cup for sure.”
After reintroducing his own facial hair into the equation, MLS’ top scoring defender tallied his fifth goal of the season Sunday, a game-winner in Los Angeles Football Club’s streak-snapping victory over Real Salt Lake at Banc of California Stadium.
“I think the facts speak for themselves,” Hollingshead said. “The ‘stache was gone for three games and we went 0-3. Now it’s back and we’re 1-0.”
There are other factors at play, notably that the defeats occurred away from home. But the 31-year-old MLS veteran can quickly boost his superstitious case while LAFC (19-7-3, 60 points) hits the road for a rare multi-city trip to face his previous club over the past eight years, FC Dallas, and, days later, Minnesota United FC.
Third in the Western Conference under the new head coach Nico Estevez, Dallas (12-8-10, 46 points) has lost once in its past six outings, taking a shutout at Minnesota last weekend while scoring three goals in less than four minutes.
Hollingshead, a former UCLA Bruin acquired in a deal that sent Marco Farfan to Dallas, has been a multifaceted and consistent performer since arriving in January, appearing in 26 of the club’s 29 regular-season matches.
Prior to LAFC’s first meeting of the year against Dallas, a 3-1 win June 29 at the Banc, Hollingshead lauded head coach Steve Cherundolo as someone who “knows outside back better than anybody in the world” and that talking about the position with him helped make the experience with his new club “special.”
“Ryan has figured this league out,” Cherundolo said. “He has figured out this position. Left, right, doesn’t matter, he knows where to be. He has a knack for being at the right spot at the right time. It is not luck, it is quality. This is what Ryan brings and we know this and this is why we obviously identified Ryan as a target in the offseason and are overjoyed to have him in an LAFC jersey.”
That doesn’t mean Cherundolo, one shy of tying Bob Bradley for the most wins (20) by a first-year head coach in MLS history, will partake in Hollingshead’s mustache movement.
“I can grow one but I will not grow one,” he said. “It doesn’t register with me. I am a firm believer in hard work and not in superstitions.”
LAFC’s ongoing efforts at its training ground has been limited in duration throughout the heatwave blanketing California, but its intensity remains high, which is crucial with a handful of matches to go before the postseason.
This week, the club welcomed its final piece to the roster, 31-year-old Spanish forward Cristian Tello, who will make the road trip.
These types of additions were rare during Hollingshead’s tenure in Dallas, which relied on fostering homegrown talent like leading goal scorer Jesus Ferreira (16), though “they spent some money and brought in some big pieces and you can tell it’s helping,” the defender said. “They’re doing a lot better this year.”
LAFC at FC Dallas
When: 5:38 p.m. PT Saturday
Where: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
TV/Radio: KCOP 13, Estrella TV 62/ESPN LA app, 980 AM