Houston Dynamo FC: Teenage Hadebe fits defensive mission

The hybrid defender-midfielder experiment has ended. Houston Dynamo FC got serious and signed central defender Teenage Hadebe.

Defender Teenage Hadebe heads to Houston Dynamo FC after successful plays as a central defender, plus left, for Yeni Malatyaspore in Turkey’s Super Lig. The left-footed player gets paid as a defender but the past season, also scored two goals plus an assist.

Add to that his averages per game of 1.6 aerials won, 4.5 clearances, just under a tackle per match, then dribbles and blocks. Hadebe got Super Lig Team of the Week honors five times. He won league honors in the first of his two seasons.

Scouting reports cite the greatest thing going for Hadebe is his concentration, with much room for improvement in other important areas. Yet he’s the Dynamo’s most expensive signing so far this season at $1.65 million for three years. He’s also the third most expensive in team history.

He’ll become only the sixth Zimbabwean to play in MLS.

Zimbabwe’s defender Teenage Hadebe (R) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Egypt and Zimbabwe KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images.

In recent games,  Houston left out beginning with midfielder Boniek Garcia on the backline. That hybrid position for the defensive midfielder breathed new life into his mature career.

The idea was to further open up lanes for the offense while clearing any attacks. But with Hadebe’s successful development in his position, he’s expected to occasionally exploit those clearances and lanes for himself. Then he’ll assist or score along them.

His greatest areas for improvement are crossing and passing. Despite that Houston had a lot of competition for Hadebe’s transfer.

That meant the Dynamo had to budget more for Hadebe and named him a Designated Player, outside the team’s salary cap.

Hadebe’s ambition originally had been to play in the English Premier League. But the right offer there hasn’t been made yet.

Other Turkish teams, plus Ligue 2’s Amiens in France expressed strong interest in him. He chose Houston over all of them.

Head coach Tab Ramos plans to put Hadebe on the same development track as defender Tim Parker to refine their talents. Parker is a starter in the middle of the back four.

Senior vice president and general manager Matt Jordan cited Hadebe’s speed, athleticism, and presence on the pitch as reasons he would quickly fit in their system.

Internationally, Hadebe has 17 caps with the Zimbabwe Men’s National Team.

He made 53 appearances with his Turkish club, plus some domestic Cup games and UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds.

Houston Dynamo FC is counting on Teenage Hadebe to partner with Tim Parker for some explosive action from the backline. Parker just got a contract extension.

Both Parker and Hadebe will make good on Houston’s commitment.

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