Houston Dynamo: Marlon Hairston is Andrew Wenger’s replacement

COMMERCE CITY, CO - JUNE 03: Marlon Hairston
COMMERCE CITY, CO - JUNE 03: Marlon Hairston /

The Houston Dynamo acquired Marlon Hairston from the Colorado Rapids during the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in exchange for allocation money. His versatility compares favourably to the recently-retired Andrew Wenger.

During the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, the Houston Dynamo quietly acquired Marlon Hairston from the Colorado Rapids, in exchange for $175,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) — $125,000 in 2019 and $50,000 in 2020.

Hairston, who played his college soccer at the University of Louisville, is capable of playing in a variety of positions (RW, LW, CM, RWB, and RB)  and becomes an immediate replacement for Andrew Wenger, who made the unexpected decision to retire earlier this offseason at the age of 27.

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Wenger may not have lived up to the hype of a No. 1 MLS SuperDraft pick, but he was a dependable and versatile asset, which is a critical part of an organisation’s squad if they are to have success throughout a tough and arduous season, especially when competing on a number of different fronts like Houston is next year with their involvement in the CONCACAF Champions League.

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His utility was clear for all Dynamo fans to see last season: he started against Atlanta United opening day at left wing and would go on to appear at right wing and at right back as the Dynamo desperately searched for a serviceable deputy for the injured A.J. DeLaGarza. Typically, Wenger brought some much-needed stability to the position.

While the Dynamo severely lacked right-back options last season, that will not be the case for this upcoming campaign. DeLaGarza, one of the most underrated players in Major League Soccer, made a return from his torn ACL towards the end of last season, Chris Duvall was acquired just prior to Christmas, and the Dynamo drafted two defenders during this year’s SuperDraft.

The fact that Hairston, who will turn 25 in March, can deputize at right-back is an added bonus for the Dynamo, who have ensured that full-back will not be a problem this season. Nonetheless, Hairston’s primary role will be to backup Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, who both figure to miss significant chunks of next season while on international duty with Honduras. It also remains to be seen as to whether Elis will be at the club at all, with rumors regarding his future intensifying in recent weeks.

There is no doubt that Hairston has the required athleticism to thrive in the Dynamo attack, which flourishes when given the opportunity to counter quickly. Whether he has the quality or production to match, however, is another matter. Hairston has made 95 MLS appearances (68 starts), but has only managed seven goals and 13 assists during his career. While these numbers are influenced by the fact that the former first-round pick played many of those games at right-back, these numbers will have to improve for the Jackson, Mississippi native to solidify his role within the Houston squad.

Hairston became expendable in Colorado after the Rapids made a blockbuster move to acquire Philadelphia Union right-back Keegan Rosenberry. Rosenberry is more of a natural defender than Hairston, and the club felt like Rosenberry was a better fit for them at right-back moving forward.

The Dynamo now have two men (in some cases three), capable of playing every position on the field, which is what Senior Vice President/General Manager Matt Jordan wanted considering the increased number of matches Houston will likely have to play. And I suspect that they are not done making additions just yet.

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Nonetheless, the Houston Dynamo continued a successful offseason with the acquisition of Hairston. He is young, experienced (nearly 100 games of MLS experience), versatile, and cap-friendly (he made $144,996.00 last season), and will undoubtedly play important minutes for La Naranja in 2019.