Ryan Holland Interview!

by Art Eftekhari

center back ryan holland made his debut with orange county fc in 2019 and played a huge role in the amazing u.s. open cup run

Art Eftekhari: Who was your favorite footballer when you were growing up in England?

Ryan Holland: There were two: Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes.

Art Eftekhari: As a kid, did you ever picture yourself playing the sport you love in the United States? 

Ryan Holland: I wouldn’t say as a kid I pictured myself playing over here as I had the dream of going pro in England. But from the age of 15, I knew I wanted to play over here for college. Then I guess I would say from that age I pictured myself going through college and trying to make it over here.

Art Eftekhari: How did you discover Orange County FC and did Paul Caligiuri have a big part in you joining the club?

Ryan Holland: At the end of my senior year of college I wanted to find a team that I could train and play with until I graduated and I found out that the NPSL, especially the Western Conference, was a good standard to look at. I looked up who finished top last year, Orange County FC, and emailed them with my highlight tape and video. Within a few hours I got a call back and was invited for a tryout where they signed me soon after training had finished. I’d say Paul was a part in me signing because of his reputation in U.S. Soccer history.

Art Eftekhari: You played for Grantham Town in the Northern Premier League in England. Do you feel there are similarities between the Northern Premier League and NPSL?

Ryan Holland: Yeah, I’ve played a fair few games for Grantham Town. I would say that the U.S. still has a long way to go in order to live up to the standard and reputation of the English football system even in the Northern Premier League. Although I would say that the top teams in our conference were of a very good level and would be able to compete in the 7th tier of English football.

Art Eftekhari: OCFC had its ups and downs in the 2019 season, but what was your favorite moment?

Ryan Holland: Has to be the U.S. Open Cup run with the finale of playing against the LA Galaxy. That was the best moment of my career for sure so far.

Art Eftekhari: You scored a crucial goal in stoppage time against OCSC in the U.S. Open Cup, was that the most important goal you have ever scored?

Ryan Holland: I would say the goal versus OCSC was the most important goal I have ever scored. I’ve scored a few bangers in my youth days and even playing for Grantham Town, but that was the most important and memorable to date.

Art Eftekhari: You guys fought hard and lost 3-0 to the LA Galaxy in the 4th Round of the U.S. Open Cup. What was going through your head during that match? Was there excitement about playing against the Galaxy?

Ryan Holland: Yeah, the Galaxy game was amazing and even better for us being the underdogs. It meant we could go out and enjoy the occasion and for 52 minutes we gave a very good account of ourselves and if a few referee decisions had gone our way we could’ve walked off with a result. 

Art Eftekhari: ESPN plus streamed all matches of the U.S. Open Cup. How important was this for you and other amateur footballers?

Ryan Holland: It was so important as it allowed us to showcase ourselves on a national scale and also our families were able to watch the games in high quality. 

Art Eftekhari: OCFC missed out on the NPSL playoffs for the first time ever, what words come to mind when you think about missing out on the NPSL playoffs?

Ryan Holland: Frustration, I would say would be the main one. I feel like the Open Cup run took a lot out of us physically and mentally which then heavily affected the rest of our season. It happens with a lot of teams though. Like in England, teams do well in the FA Cup yet get relegated the same season. San Diego got to the NPSL national semifinals and at the beginning of the season we played them off the park at their place so it just shows we had the ability to have an incredible season. We were just honestly mentally and physically drained by the end of it. When everyone is trying to beat you because you are the best amateur side in the country, combined with playing against pro sides, it soon affects the way you are playing and really affected our results. 

Art Eftekhari: You are 22-years-old and you just had an awesome season with OCFC. What is the next step for you as a footballer?

Ryan Holland: For me the most important thing now is for me to graduate college. I will do that in December and then I can go explore soccer opportunities. I’m working with a few people now to try and explore new opportunities in the pro game. I guess we will just see what happens.