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Eastern Conference Championship

Marshall adjusting to responsibility of the armband

COLUMBUS, Ohio – First and foremost, Chad Marshall is a defender. And if you go by his trophy cabinet – which is stocked with both team and individual hardware – he’s a very, very good one.

So far, 2011 is no different. Marshall has led a defense that has allowed one goal in the past five matches as the Crew host Vancouver on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live).

But while the defense has held firm, other parts of this season – Marshall’s first as team captain – haven’t come so easy. Marshall is now, quite often, the face and voice of the Crew, and talking to the media has never really been his thing.

“He has a little more responsibility not only on the field but off the field,” said coach Robert Warzycha. “Being captain is an honor. He’s taking that responsibility very seriously. He was a good choice.”

Marshall, 26 years old and in his eighth season with the Crew, said he doesn’t feel differently now that he is captain.

“I’m just trying to speak up more and go out on the field and do my job,” he said. “I may watch a little bit more film and try to see what’s going on with the team more.”

Marshall credits a large core of veterans in making his job easier.

“We all have equal say in what’s going on,” he said. “I’ve just been appointed that arm band. Their opinions matter as much as mine.”

Still, Marshall is the conduit between his teammates and the staff.

“There’s been times I went in to talk to the coaches about how I felt something was going on and maybe we could change it for the better,” he said.

While the captaincy may take more of his time, he is still the same imposing player that won MLS Defender of the Year awards in 2008 and ‘09.

“He’s playing solid like last year and the years before that when he was defender of the year,” Warzycha said.

What Marshall would like to do more of is contribute offensively. He had four goals in 2008 and again the next season – almost all on headers from set pieces – but just one last year and none so far in 2011 as the team struggles with restarts.

That’s one reason the Crew have scored only five times. The key to beating Vancouver could be finishing against an expansion team that has yielded 12 goals in seven games.

“It’s not what they’re doing,” Warzycha said, “it’s what we’re doing. We’re going to create chances on Saturday. The question is if we are going to be sharp in front of the goal.”

The Crew have not conceded a goal in Crew Stadium this season, tying New York and beating FC Dallas and Sporting KC.

“That was one of our goals before the season – not to drop points here,” Marshall said. “We probably should have got that win against New York, but we still kept them to zero. We want to get back to ‘08-09 when we really picked up a lot of points here.”