If Sounders FC was looking to solidify the center back position, it couldn’t do much better in Major League Soccer than Chad Marshall.
The 29-year-old defender that came in a trade with the Columbus Crew earlier this month has been among the sturdiest center backs in MLS over the last four years and Seattle hopes he will be just the fortifying presence needed to help get back among the stingiest defenses in the league.
“I still feel like I’m in top form,” said Marshall. “I kind of pride myself on my consistency in my play, and I felt like I had a good year for the Crew last year, so I’m hoping to bring that to Seattle.”
Marshall was the league’s Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009, and has remained a stalwart in the middle of the Columbus defense.
In the last four seasons, he has started 110 of the Crew’s 122 matches. Only three center backs have started more matches in that time – Drew Moor in Colorado, Bobby Boswell in Houston and Nat Borchers with Real Salt Lake.
In Seattle, Sounders FC was looking to reinforce the defense, particularly at center back where nobody outside of Jeff Parke has started more than 25 matches in the last four seasons. With Leo Gonzalez and DeAndre Yedlin returning in the outside back roles and a cavalcade of center backs that includes Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni and Zach Scott, Marshall looks to be a key piece to the defensive puzzle as Seattle builds toward the 2014 season.
By coming to Seattle, Marshall is reuniting with three people from the MLS Cup winning Crew team in 2008 in Head Coach Sigi Schmid, Assistant Coach Ezra Hendrickson and midfielder Brad Evans. Schmid, for one, is a key factor in Marshall’s enthusiasm toward joining the Sounders.
“That was definitely a big part of it. We had a successful time with Sigi here in Columbus when he was here, myself included in that—being Defender of the Year in 2008 and the year after he left in 2009,” he said. “I’m excited to work with him. He’s a very demanding coach and I think he gets the best out of his players. I definitely am looking forward to working with him again.”
Marshall also sees the change of scenery as an opportunity to play in front of a packed stadium for every home match for a club that is one of three in MLS that has reached the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.
“It seems like a club that is willing to do anything to win,” Marshall said. “I’m super excited to play at CenturyLink in front of that atmosphere. I’ve had the pleasure of doing that a few times with the Crew there. It’s always incredible. I can only imagine it’s even more incredible when they’re on your side, so I’m definitely excited to play in that atmosphere.”
Marshall will join his new teammates in training camp on January 25. Sounders FC opens the season on March 8 at CenturyLink Field against the MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City.