Chad Marshall - Dominique Badji - 2018-08-12

TUKWILA, Wash. – It might seem improbable for a three-time MLS Defender of the Year to be flying under the radar, but that’s exactly what Chad Marshall is doing for the Seattle Sounders in 2018.

Now in his 15th MLS season, the stalwart center back is still performing at his customary level, anchoring a Sounders back line that has conceded the fewest goals (26) in the Western Conference through 24 matches.

Marshall may not yet be considered on the same tier as other club legends like Ozzie Alonso, Kasey Keller or even Clint Dempsey, but as he works his way through another standout campaign in Seattle, it might be time to include him in the conversation.

Asked about Marshall’s value to the club after Seattle’s training session on Tuesday, Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei took the opportunity to make a brief stump speech in regards to his veteran teammate.

“I know we joke about how at some point it’ll be named the Chad Marshall Defender of the Year award, but I truly think that it should,” Frei said. “Maybe he hasn’t got that many [U.S. national team] caps, I think those are politics. When you look at the stats and what he’s done in this league, there’s nobody like him.

“He always jokes about how, ‘Oh, I’m retiring,’ and this and that. And we’re always like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to be here for another five, six years.’ He’s so damn consistent. He’s so good.”

Although universally referred to by his teammates as the funniest player in Seattle’s locker room, Marshall is also famously understated and doesn’t like talking to the media – a persona that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the national spotlight. As Frei pointed out, he also has only procured 12 caps for the United States since 2005, a sore subject for some USMNT supporters who feel that number should be higher.

“I just try and win the ball and get it to the good players who are technical and can do fun stuff with it,” Marshall said in typical fashion last week. “I just head the ball and do little reach-around taps and pass it to the Cristian[ Roldan]s and the Nico[ Lodeiro]s.”

Over the course of Seattle’s recent run of nine unbeaten matches, however, Marshall has provided an apt reminder of why he’s the most decorated defender in league history.

The 33-year-old doesn’t seem to have lost a step in terms of his defensive prowess, and remains a matchup nightmare in the opposition’s penalty box, where he’s managed to score trademark goals in each of Seattle’s last two games off set-piece headers.

If he continues to dominate through 2018, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer echoed Frei’s assessment that Marshall might not be done adding to his trophy case – where those three Defender of the Year awards already represent an MLS record.

“Has he gotten all the recognition he deserves? That’s a tough one, because he’s three-time Defender of the Year,” Schmetzer said on Tuesday. “Somehow goals equal notoriety and he’s scored a couple goals recently, so now the narrative is, ‘Oh, Chad’s been playing great.’ Well, he’s playing great outside of the goals he’s been scoring. That’s just an added benefit for us. He’s been a great player for this team.”