Marlon Hairston shines again for Rapids

Marlon Hairston shines again for Rapids

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park — Marlon Hairston scored the game-winner before halftime and assisted Dominique Badji in the 60th minute to finalize a 2–0 victory for the Colorado Rapids over Whitecaps FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night.

Scoring his third goal of the season, Marly continued running in high gear for Colorado, creating plays out of defensive discipline and attacking with venom. To avoid hints of hype, look at the facts.

Marly flicked the ball for Gashi’s first serious attempt on goal in the seventh minute. In the 12th minute, Marly countered quickly until he stopped with the ball at the end line on the wing. He snapped into the box like a wet towel and dropped a pass to Kevin Doyle for a chance and a corner kick.

When Tim Parker covered him for the first part of the first half, Marly stretched the wing with aggressive checking runs forward and back. The farther Parker had to range chasing Marly, the more Marc Burch overlapped.

Meanwhile, Doyle fought extra getting to balls he had no business reaching, and although he was on the sidelines, Marco Pappa channeled himself through Shkëlzen Gashi until he joined the Albanian in the 84th minute. Gashi nutmegged Whitecaps like a tube-surfer and cut against the grain with the most creativity in a burgundy shirt. Dillon Powers played positive, and Sam Cronin was solid in the same spots.

Having Bobby Burling back added bark to Tim Howard’s bite and Axel Sjöberg’s cast-iron fist defending. The shutout kudos, as always, go all the way up top where Doyle scrambled for every hopeful long ball and Marly, Powers, Badji, Gashi, Cronin, and Miller swarmed before Vancouver could make any waves with the ball. With Blas Pérez on the bench after head coach Carl Robinson used Masato Kudo as his third sub in the 78th minute, the visitors made rare ripples but no foamy froth.

Whitecaps netminder David Ousted kept the game in reach with critical saves and heroic police work in his box, but the creative “7s” didn’t create many threats — captain Pedro Morales (77), Andrew Jacobson (17), and Christian Bolaños (7).

Before he scored, Marly switched sides with Badji and continued to retreat to defend when necessary. On one play, he won the ball twice, and Burling won it again while Morales crumpled near the top of the box. Howard made a point to point this out to referee Chris Penso after the free kick concluded (score still 0–0, but Marly showed no signs of slowing down).

Kendall Waston dropped Marly with a foul. A couple plays later, Marly challenged for a Cronin cross, and Ousted punched him in the head. When Marly returned to the field following the infirmary time-out, the 22-year-old helped win the ball back.

In the 44th minute, Marly held the ball under heavy pressure and touched it to Powers, who pushed it wide to Gashi on the right wing. Marly received a chip from Gashi in the middle of the field and slotted a diagonal ball forward to a crashing Burch. Parker charged out of a bunker near Ousted’s box to put a sliding stop to Burch’s optimism. But Burch burned by with a single touch forward, carried it to the line, and crossed it on the ground for Marly to get his third touch on the ball in one play, a first-time lefty finish.

Ten minutes into the second half, Ousted was busy with chances from Powers and Burling. Then Badji struck at the hour mark. Doyle scrapped to slip the ball to Miller on the right wing, and Miller nutmegged Marcel de Jong with a pass down the line to Marly. Badji timed his run into the box while Marly set up a simple pass on the ground like Burch had given him. Badji scored the goal. Badji made way for newcomer Sebastian Le Toux to debut in burgundy in the 74th minute. Badji stayed on the field long after most folks headed home to sign autographs after interviews and make dozens of happy fans happier.

Marly wasn’t done yet. In the 75th minute, he ran through on his own with the ball and earned a corner kick that Burling almost connected via Gashi.

Giles Barnes got a piece of Cronin in midfield, but play continued with Miller and Marly pushing into the box for another chance. This marked the end of Marly’s run for the night. He hobbled to the sideline, and a few minutes later Marco Pappa joined Gashi to channel the creative energy together until Jared Watts replaced Gashi in stoppage time and kicked the ball into the upper seats.

That’s how teams win games. Combine grit with flair, veterans with youth, and the true story of a workhorse midfielder with the risk of sounding like hype. It’s all true.

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