Marshall leads Sounders to Toronto

Former TFC defender Tyrone Marshall takes a long road to Seattle, but is the perfect fit for head coach Sigi Schmid.

About a month into training camp this year, Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid saw a need for a leader on his defense.  Someone with MLS experience who could take a group of players that had barely played together and form them into a cohesive unit.

With nine years of MLS coaching experience with two different teams, he knew exactly where to turn.

That’s when the Sounders FC added defender Tyrone Marshall in a trade with Toronto FC. 

“He’s a guy that’s been through the wars.  He’s won two MLS Cups,” Schmid said.  “He’s also been through the expansion side of things.  So he’s been through that battle and he knows what that looks like, so he can share those experiences with the guys as well.”

Marshall began his trek through the MLS with the Colorado Rapids, but the path that made him the father-figure he is for Seattle started well before then.

Marshall lived in Jamaica until he was about 14 years old, when his family migrated to south Florida.  However, he was the last of five brothers to come to the states, so he spent some time in Jamaica living with aunts and uncles.

It was that independence while in his home country that molded much of his personality.  By the time he moved to the Ft. Lauderdale area with his family, they had already established themselves in the area, so he was easily able to acclimate himself.  His south Florida surroundings also allowed him to play against great competition.  But it wasn’t peers that provided opposition, but rather his father’s men’s league team.  Marshall would go with his father to play and learned the hard way how to play the rugged, no nonsense style he still carries with him today.

After his brief stint with Colorado, he was traded to the Miami Fusion, playing home games a mere 10 minute drive from his Ft. Lauderdale home.  After Miami was contracted after the 2001 season, he went to Los Angeles, where he won two MLS Cups and a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.  The first of his MLS Cups came in 2002 under Schmid.

He gained good experience with the Galaxy, but midway through the 2007 season he was shipped off to expansion Toronto FC.  After 11 seasons around the league, Marshall landed in Seattle in a February trade, shoring up the Sounders defense.

“I knew coming back and playing with Sigi that he would bring in players that know how to win and that’s the type of environment that I want to be in,” Marshall said.  “Sigi wants defenders who are hard-nosed tacklers but know when to calm it down.”

In last week’s 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake, Marshall notched his 250th career MLS game,  along with 65 games with the Jamaican national team.

“Tyrone obviously has a lot of experience, not only in this league, but he has 60-70 internationals for Jamaica, and has played in those sorts of games,” Schmid said.  “He was always a very athletic player, and as he’s grown older he’s become a little better at dividing up his talents in terms of when to be athletic and when to be tactical, aware.  He gives us some leadership, which I felt we needed in the back as well; a mature person that can help influence the other guys.  And he’s just got a good personality.”

On Saturday, Marshall will make his return to Toronto, facing his former club for the first time in a Sounders uniform.  Kickoff is set for 1 pm on Fox Soccer Channel and on the CBUT Canadian broadcast.

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