On Wednesday, Sounders FC defender Chad Marshall announced his retirement from professional soccer, calling time on a 16-year career that included a host of individual and team accolades.
After training at Starfire Sports, players and members of the Front Office heaped praise on the three-time MLS Defender of the Year.
“I have a lot of respect for the guy,” said Sounders FC General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “He was able to play for different coaches in different systems. He was always good, and he always won. I think he’s won seven trophies in his career.
“That’s amazing. It’s rare and I hope we all take a moment to say we’re so appreciative that Chad played for the Sounders. He was such a cornerstone of the club. He won the MLS Cup with us – we wouldn’t won it without him. They don’t make Chad Marshalls every day.”
As one of the most decorated American players to ever take the pitch in MLS, everyone has their own favorite memories of Marshall’s time in Rave Green. For Sounders FC Majority Owner Adrian Hanauer, it’s impossible to point to a single moment that best summarized the defender’s illustrious career.
“I usually hunch down toward the back of the locker room – whether it was pregame, halftime or after the game – but Chad was always the locker right adjacent to me,” recalled Hanauer. “After every game I just remember him being absolutely shattered. Just not even able to hold himself up because he was so exhausted by what he put into the game. I remember feeling this pride and appreciation knowing that he left it all on the field every single time he went out there.”
Selected in the 2004 MLS Super Draft, Marshall’s career – and his unparalleled success – is an allegory for the growth of the league.
Marshall’s achievements and consistency are testaments to his cerebral approach to soccer. He didn’t just adapt to tectonic shifts in the growth of the game, but rather he elevated his play to meet each new challenge.
When MLS introduced the Designated Player rule and TAM mechanism, there was a massive influx of highly talented attacking players into the league. It says a lot about Marshall’s approach to his craft that his four MLS Best XI selections and four MLS All-Star appearances came after teams started breaking the bank to bring in world class goal-scorers.
“16 years of consistency,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said, attempting to summarize his teammate’s career. “I know that’s difficult with the way the game is changing and ever-evolving. You start playing soccer [and coaches tell you] don’t take any risks, smash the ball forward, play simple. And then halfway into your career, it’s like start taking risks, play out of the back.
“You start changing everything you’ve always been taught. A lot of people are maybe not willing to do it or simply can’t. He’s been able to prolong his career and stay consistent.”
Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer was equally effusive in his praise.
“He was a great, great American center back,” said Schmetzer. “A great American defender. Arguably one of the best our league has ever had. Obviously, I’m a little biased, but he was terrific.”
It’s impossible to pay proper homage to such an iconoclastic player like Marshall. He didn’t just change the game, he changed with the game. And he will go down as one of the greatest defenders in the history of the league.