Femi Hollinger-Janzen has been defying the odds since birth, which is why it should come as no surprise that the New England Revolution’s newest third-round selection is already making a big impact in the squad’s rotation.
The long and improbable journey began in the West African nation of Benin, where he was born with a crooked leg and abandoned soon thereafter.
As fate and faith would have it, the baby was taken in by missionaries Lynda and Rod Hollinger-Janzen, who would eventually adopt him at age six. The couple would then return with their family to Goshen, Indiana, where the game of soccer soon took hold on the youngster.
“As cliche as it might sound, it’s definitely been a roller-coaster for me,” said Hollinger-Janzen. “Right now it’s on its way up to the peak. It’s been a tremendous and fun journey for me.”
That journey saw him star at Indiana University for four years, winning a national championship in 2012, before the Revolution selected him with the 51st overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
Despite what the ex-Hoosier was hearing about the fate of the majority of prior third-round selections, he pushed hard every day to earn a contract with the Revolution, which paid off two games into the season when he signed on March 16th and suited up four days later, subbing on in the final 15 minutes of a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia.
“Analysts were saying that most guys drafted third round really don’t play or don’t make the team. It was a little scary for me hearing that,” admitted Hollinger-Janzen. “The hard work has paid off. It’s been awesome getting some minutes here in these games. It’s such awesome experience and such a fun time.”
Hollinger-Janzen is one of only two third-round selections from this past January, along with San Jose’s Kip Colvey, to see time on the pitch this season, and he’s the only Revs draft pick from this past January to do so as well.
He’s been integral in providing a spark to a team that at times has struggled to find one, and in doing so has earned more minutes and praise along the way.
After securing the first point of his career, an assist on Juan Agudelo’s strike versus L.A. Galaxy on Sunday, Hollinger-Janzen is looking to remain dedicated to improving his team and himself, while enjoying the ride along the way.
“I got to stay focused on the ultimate goal, to work with the team and win an MLS Cup,” he said. “Individually, I want to grow as a player, learn from older players on the team."