New England Soccer Today

Femi Gets First Start in Draw

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Not much is expected in terms of an immediate impact from third round SuperDraft picks, but New England Revolution rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen is proving an exception with six appearances, including his first MLS start on Saturday, just 10 games into the young season.

While New England’s 10th overall pick Jordan McCrary and 30th overall pick Michael Gamble were much more heralded after the 2016 SuperDraft, neither has seen any game time, whereas Hollinger-Janzen, the 51st overall pick, has already become a regular contributor. After five strong showings off the bench, Hollinger-Janzen earned the start on Saturday at Gillette Stadium in a 2-2 draw with Orlando City SC.

“The idea was that we were going to have Femi go out there and he’s fresh and not coming back from any injury [like Juan Agudelo was],” said Head Coach Jay Heaps. “We were excited to get him in the game. He brings a lot of energy and he certainly did that.”

In 69 minutes on the pitch Hollinger-Janzen attempted a shot, completed 8 of 11 passes (72.7%) and won two aerial duels.

“It was pretty awesome to get my first start,” said Hollinger-Janzen. “A lot of nerves going through me, but I was happy out there, confident, and just played my game.”

With Charlie Davies out after suffering an injury in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers, Heaps needed to make a change up top. Agudelo, a U.S. National Team striker, was available, but with Femi’s strong performances, the Revolution coach didn’t have to risk putting in the more veteran striker who was coming off a hamstring injury.

“I talked to coach, he was telling me how I’ve just come back from a hamstring injury and Wednesday-Saturday is a quick turnaround and Femi’s been doing great,” said Agudelo. “So hat off to him, I thought he did well.”

And Agudelo wasn’t the only teammate with praise for Hollinger-Janzen after his first start.

“I think he was nervous, of course, first game,” said midfielder Diego Fagundez, who opened the scoring in the seventh minute, of Hollinger-Janzen’s first start. “I remember my first game and it was one of those, but he came in, he did his job. He worked hard. There’s nothing bad you can say about him.”

Despite the nerves, Hollinger-Janzen looked comfortable in 69 minutes up front as the team’s lone striker.

“I thought I was pretty comfortable up there,” he said. “I played it in college obviously, so I was comfortable. It’s a different physicality level at this level, so I had to prepare myself for that.”

The rookie also noted he’d benefited from training with two players with international experience in Davies and Agudelo.

“They’ve just told me to be confident when I go in and make those runs behind the defenders,” said Hollinger-Janzen. “They’ve given me cues of where to be when the ball is out wide, when the ball is in the middle, so it’s been really helpful to have those guys.”

And adding to Hollinger-Janzen’s confidence on Saturday, was that he was making the start in front of a season home record crowd of 25,203.

“The crowd was awesome,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough for all their support for our entire team. It definitely boosted the confidence going forward.”

But even with the excitement of making his debut in the starting eleven, Femi was disappointed the team only left with a draw. The team heads to Los Angeles next weekend to face the Galaxy on Sunday, with the Revolution still looking for its second win of the season.

“We need to mentally be ready for the game and we need these three points from Los Angeles,” he said “We’ve just got to forget about this game and move on to the next one.”

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