Hairston thinks Rapids are ready to put their best foot forward

by Brian Jennings

Marlon Hairston is used to being implemented as one type of player, only to have his role switch many times over the course of his seasons in Colorado.  However, it looks as though all that switching lines and roles has been a great rehearsal for his current spot in Head Coach Anthony Hudson’s brand new system for the Rapids. Now as a winger with Edgar Castillo in Hudson’s 3-5-2 setup, Hairston is responsible for pushing up in the attack on the outside, as well as being available to drop back and defend as backline personnel.

“It’s been a learning experience for sure,” laughs Hairston, after it seems I asked him about the change to his responsibilities every season, and telling The Voice of C38 what the challenges have been thus far.  “The formation is different, so positionally that’s probably been the biggest learning curve for me-where I’m supposed to be at a given point during the game, being at the right place at the right time, and when I’m supposed to be there.  Being this position, I’m still a winger and a fullback at the same time so I’ve had opportunities to play both of those positions the last couple years.”

With a total now reaching fourteen new players in the Rapids locker room, Marlon is impressed by the job the coaching staff has done getting the new additions comfortable and prepared on the whole in such a short time.  “We watch a ton of video two or three times a week. It’s intense.”

“Coach is doing the best he can make our jobs easier letting us know where he wants us to be, and what he wants from us.  He’s been a big help to me along the process.  It’s not a finished product-we’re still learning every day.”  That process has been hindered by the unorthodox schedule Colorado has faced with an early start to training camp, the CCL matches courtesy of the 2016 Rapids squad, and the past bye week after the season opener in New England.  “It’s been tough to get a rhythm at this point when we played a game, have a week off, play a game have another week off-it’s difficult for sure.”

However, Hairston and the Rapids have been working extremely hard in training, including a closed-door scrimmage, and are itching to get back into a match that means something in MLS.   “It’s a ton of practicing but it’s tough to replicate practices to a game setting so we can only take so much into the game.  I think once we get a rhythm of games consecutively every week, the chemistry will become better, fitness will become better, and just habits we can take into the game each weekend.”

Colorado opens their home slate in 2018 against rival and neighbor Sporting Kansas City, a team Hairston knows is always kind of a wild-card in that they aren’t afraid to come at you wherever the match is being played.  “When you play SKC since I’ve been in the league, they’re an all-out attacking team.  They’re not afraid to push numbers forward and try to score goals.  (Head Coach Peter Vermes) likes to get their fullbacks high, kind of leave two centerbacks, maybe a midfielder if things break down for them.”

As far as how they can try to exploit the visitors at the weekend, Hairston offers some hope.  “Once they send numbers high then maybe catch them on a break.”  And even though Colorado faced SKC in the preseason in AZ recently, this is not even the same Rapids side from that point so Marlon likes where his team has progressed to.   “We’ve definitely seen progress since preseason.  From where we started to where we are now is leaps-and-bounds (better) so credit to the staff for directing us.”

“We played them in preseason but it’s going to be a different game from preseason to where we are now.  We’re a different team, new players into the side than preseason.  I think the guys are just ready to put our best foot forward and give ourselves a result we can be proud of and our fans.”

“Here at home we want to play for more than that-we want to dictate the game, have tempo, have the ball,” notes Hairston.  “We’ve done well against them the last couple times, and the longer we get our chances to stay in the game with them we’ll be able to score a goal or two.”

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