By nature, crosses from open play are a low-percentage proposition. It doesn’t matter if you’re offering early service as a backline retreats, or if you’re trying to find a striker’s head as they slip between defenders. More often than not, the cross is cleared away or misses its mark.
But it turns out that some players are quite precise when attempting open-play crosses. In fact, when combining data from the 2019 and 2020 seasons, nine players who attempted at least 30 open-play crosses enjoyed a 30 percent success rate. Most are wide players, while some central midfielders also made the cut.
FC Dallas left back Ryan Hollingshead tops the list with a 38.1% success rate, while Portland Timbers left back Jorge Villafaña clocks in with a 35.87% success rate. They’re both eager to bomb forward and offer a different dimension in attack.
After Hollingshead and Villafaña is since-departed LA Galaxy defender Diego Polenta (35.71 percent), then a pair of Designated Players in Minnesota United midfielder Jan Gregus (35.29 percent) and New York City FC midfielder Maxi Moralez (33.33 percent). Gregus and Moralez have combined for 34 assists across the last season and change.
There’s then a tight cluster in the 30 percent range via Toronto FC right back Auro and Houston Dynamo wide attacker Memo Rodriguez. Shortly behind them are Montreal Impact teammates Saphir Taider and Romell Quioto. Rounding out the top 10 is Atlanta United wingback Brooks Lennon, who was acquired via trade this past offseason from Real Salt Lake.
Now, converting these open-play crosses into shots on target or goals is another layer. There’s a reason that teams shell out the big bucks for strikers with clinical finish rates, whether it’s via headers or a calm finish that’s paired with a well-timed run. But at the very least, these 10 players put their teammates in positions to succeed.