The Columbus Crew officially ended an era on Thursday, trading talismanic defender Chad Marshall to the Seattle Sounders for an undisclosed amount of allocation funds and a third round 2015 SuperDraft pick.
Marshall, a two-time Defender of the Year, started 30 games for the Crew in 2013, but the ever-consistent head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said that financial reasons were once again at the heart of the move.
“For our side at least, [finance] was the motivation behind it,” Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com by phone Thursday. “But for [Marshall's] side, it's a good opportunity for him. He's served the club for a long time, and we looked at what type of value we could get for him this year.
“I think, in terms of the move, we maximized his value, and that was important for us,” the newly appointed coach continued. “Not only that, but we put him in a good place and a new challenge in his career.”
After Marshall's departure, the Crew no longer have any members of the 2008 MLS Cup championship team on the roster, as goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum remains out of contract. Berhalter said he knows what the club is losing in Marshall – and that while he'll have to be replaced, he can't be duplicated.
“You honor what he's done – he's done a lot for this club, he's been a big part of this club – and you move forward,” Berhalter said. “We'll get someone that comes in and plays that position, but they won't be Chad Marshall. I mean he's a two-time Defender of the Year, and we know that. We're not trying to recreate that.”
Despite his relative consistency, Marshall has a checkered injury history, including battles with concussions, and Berhalter said his health had to be taken into account when looking at his future with the club.
“We took all that into account; we have to,” he said. “There is a little bit of unknown with that, but he still performs. I wouldn't say his performance suffered greatly from it. But that's a real chance, when you're dealing with concussions.”
- Get more Crew news and notes at TheCrew.com
But the Crew didn't just subtract from their roster Thursday. Late in the day the club announced it had traded its fourth round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft to the Chicago Fire for the rights to midfielder Daniel Paladini.
Paladini started only seven matches in each of the last two seasons for the Fire, and Berhalter said it's up to the 29-year-old if he'll be competing for a starting role in Columbus.
“He's a highly techincal player, and that fits into how we want to play,” Berhalter said. “Passing, moving, being able to control the ball under pressure, I think he'll give us a good quality in midfield.”
Paladini and the Crew have yet to reach an agreement to a contract as of Thursday night, but Berhalter said the club would, “finish that up soon,” and that Paladini was excited to be in Columbus.
“He's a guy who wants to be here, and the contract wasn't financially motivated,” Berhalter said. “He wants to be part of the Crew, and that's a great feeling to have guys like that ... he's looking forward to a new era for him.”