Hairston shines as Rapids attack shows improvement in win

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – After forging a defensive identity in 2016, the Colorado Rapids have changed focus this season in an attempt to become a better attacking team. Colorado looked the part on Saturday night, dispatching the visiting Houston Dynamo in a 3-1 win that included a second-half brace from Marlon Hairston.

It was a standout performance for Hairston, who returned to the comfort of the midfield after several stints at right back for Colorado this season.

“I’ve been playing fullback trying to help this team get results, but it’s great being higher up the field,” Hairston said. “Just being higher up the pitch again, it was a great decision.”

Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni was impressed with Hairston's performance.

“Marlon playing in that position is very interesting,” Mastroeni said. “He’s done such a good job on the defensive side that he now sees the defensive side and it puts him in good positions to break going forward. He looked a different player in that wide attacking position.

"It shows a lot of growth and understanding and I think his finishes were fantastic. He looked like he’d been there all season.”

Hairston’s brace provided a much-needed response from the Rapids, who took an early lead on Kevin Doyle’s 21st-minute goal. Colorado squandered it, however, by conceding a goal in first-half stoppage time when Houston’s Erick “Cubo” Torres poked home a shot.

That could have changed the momentum of the Western Conference match in the Dynamo's favor, but Hairston's first goal of the night three minutes after the intermission made sure that was not the case.

“The response at halftime was exactly what the group needed,” Mastroeni continued. “We drove the group on with that goal and found a third. Overall, when you look at that game and the team that Houston is, I think it was a fantastic performance.”

In addition to Hairston, the Rapids' gaffer was pleased with the performances of Mohammed Saeid and Bismarck “Nana” Adjei-Boateng. The latter's start was his first since fracturing his back against Real Salt Lake back in April.

“Mo and Nana today were the catalysts tonight to everything we did with the ball,” Mastroeni said. “It was very obvious that there was a lot of jelling there and understanding. You can throw Kevin in there as well.”

With this latest offensive spark from the Rapids, Mastroeni hopes that the combo of Saeid, Boateng and Doyle will continue to pay dividends moving forward as Colorado looks to continue to climb back towards the red line.

“Between the three of them, we talk about finding those gaps between the lines, to break lines and go forward,” Mastroeni said. “When we execute that, we’re a very good team.”