Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:02 p.m. on Aug. 8.
Columbus Crew SC made a final move at the Major League Soccer transfer window deadline, which closed on Wednesday night sending winger Niko Hansen to the Houston Dynamo a league source confirmed to Massive Report. The Crew received $75,000 Targeted Allocation Money in return. This was the second move of the month as Gaston Sauro completed his transfer to Toluca of Liga MX earlier this week.
“We want to thank Niko for his contributions to Crew SC during his time in Columbus,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko in the press release. “We felt this transaction allowed for the Club to acquire roster and salary budget resources while also creating an opportunity that was good for the player. We wish Niko the best in the next chapter of his career.”
Hansen was selected by the Black & Gold ninth overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by then-head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter after playing college soccer for the University of New Mexico. He quickly made an impact during his rookie season, making 14 appearances, including three starts and scoring a goal, a game winner off the bench against the Portland Timbers, in his 401 minutes that year.
The pacy winger made 11 starts and 22 total appearances in 2018 as the Crew tried to replace the departed Justin Meram. He scored three times, two more against the Timbers, during the season and finished with seven straight appearances to close the regular season.
Hansen has struggled this season as he and the team adapted to the change from Berhalter to new head coach Caleb Porter. He made two starts in his nine appearances for Columbus with his last appearance coming in a start on the road against Real Salt Lake on July 3. Hansen fell further down the depth chart when David Accam, who the Crew traded for earlier this year, returned to fitness, Luis Argudo found his form and Luis Diaz and Youness Mokhtar joined the team via transfers.
The winger leaves the Black & Gold after making 45 total regular season appearances and 16 starts. He recorded four goals and five assists in his nearly three seasons in Columbus.
Considering his relatively limited production, the fact the team was able to get a return out of a player who was clearly out of favor and not in the Crew’s plans going forward is impressive. Hansen wasn’t able to break into Porter’s plans and his emergency stint at right back in May went poorly. With diminishing playing time and increased competition on the roster, Hansen likely would have been a casualty in the offseason.
With this move, the winger now has a chance to make an impact on another MLS team scrapping for a playoff bid. In summary, this is a move that makes sense for both sides.