Marshall Hollingsworth CLBvTBR 6-15-16
Daniel Herlensky / Columbus Crew SC Communications

Sirk's Noteblog: Hollingsworth's dream debut

Sometimes dreams do come true. For Crew SC rookie Marshall Hollingsworth, that is indeed dreams, plural. On Tuesday, he was informed that he would be in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, thereby making his Black & Gold competitive debut. On Wednesday, with his mom, dad, sisters, and college roommate in attendance, he bagged his first professional goal. Dreams, plural.
 
With the important people in his life making the trek from Chicago on a day’s notice, Hollingsworth wanted to make their sojourn worthwhile.
 
“There was a lot of excitement and I really wanted to perform well and make them proud,” he said. “I just kinda went out there with the mentality that I didn’t have much to lose and played with all my heart and put as much energy as I could into it.”
 
A burst of energy in the 65th minute made for the memory of a lifetime. He ran across the 18-yard box than made a sharp cut up the right side to get on the end of a perfectly-weighted through ball from Hector Jimenez. Hollingsworth hit the ball first time with his right foot from a tight angle. The ball bounced off the inside of the far post and caromed into the net.
 
“Hector received it and I cut across the line and he just played a perfect ball,” Hollingsworth said. “He just slipped me in so I could finish it. I just slid it to the back post. It was just a beautiful ball from Hector. To be able to see that (run) and to be able to play it that smoothly for me, and then to hit that shot and watch it go off of the back of the post and in was a surreal feeling.”
 
The tension in those few seconds as the ball rolled toward the post had to be excruciating. One inch could be the difference between a near miss and a milestone moment, and the trajectory of the rolling ball toed that fine line until the last moment.
 
“I didn’t take my eyes off it the entire time, to say the least,” he said. “I didn’t take my eyes off it until it hit the back of the post and rolled into the net. It was awesome.”
 
Counting all competitions, Hollingsworth became just the fifth Crew SC rookie to score in his first competitive match. According to my fellow numbers nerd and Black & Gold historian Matt Bernhardt and the database that he maintains, Hollingsworth joined Eric Vasquez, Kei Kamara, Ivan Becerra, Steven Lenhart, and teammate Cristian Martinez in scoring in his competitive debut as a Crew SC rookie.
 
To celebrate the historic occasion, Hollingsworth sprinted toward the Columbus bench.
 
“Steve Clark was waving me over and all the guys just wanted to congratulate me,” he said. “I just ran over there and gave them all hugs. It felt great, and then to look up and see my family up there was really special.”
 
“Look at how the guys reacted,” said Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “That’s the great thing about it. They love Marshall. He’s a great guy and a great individual.”
 
“It was great for him and it’s great that we have guys that can step up,” said Ethan Finlay. “It’s a long season and I’ve been in those shoes before where you’re coming off the bench or not even in the 18, so that’s just one step on his journey and we’re happy and very proud of him.”
 
“It’s amazing,” said Justin Meram. “Those are moments in your life that you remember. He’s worked so hard, and to get that goal, he’s going to keep that ball in his basement for many years.”
 
In one moment, a lifetime of work and preparation all came together for Hollingsworth. The starting nod for his first official appearance. The hastily arranged visit by his family. The first goal of his career.
 
“I knew I would be playing up front tonight, so I prepared myself and said I will do everything I can to score a goal,” he said. “It happened. It just worked out.”
 
Dreams do come true. Dreams, plural.
 
****
 
POSTSCRIPT
 
Here are the players who scored in their competitive debut for Crew SC, counting all competitions.
 
Source: Matt Bernhardt (@bernhardtsoccer). Bold = rookie.
 
PLAYER
DATE
COMP.
SCORE
GOALS
Brian McBride
4/13/1996
MLS
CLB 4, DC 0
29th, 86th
Pete Marino
4/13/1996
MLS
CLB 4, DC 0
48th
Thomas Dooley
6/21/1997
MLS
CLB 2, NY 1
71st
Ante Razov
4/2/2005
MLS
CLB 3, LA 0
54th
Eric Vasquez
7/16/2005
MLS
CLB 1, @CHI 1
54th
Kei Kamara
4/1/2006
MLS
@KC 3, CLB 1
33rd
Ned Grabavoy
5/13/2006
MLS
CLB 1, COL 0
71st
Ivan Becerra
7/12/2006
USOC
CLB 4, @Mid-Michigan 1
59th
Steven Lenhart
5/27/2008
USOC
CLB 2, RSL 0
26th
Dominic Oduro
3/2/2013
MLS
CLB 3, @CHV 0
94th +
Cristian Martinez
6/1/2016
MLS
@PHI 3, CLB 2
93rd +
Marshall Hollingsworth
6/15/2016
USOC
CLB 4, TB Rowdies 0
65th
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