SEATTLE — Chad Marshall’s career revival has taken another step forward.
The 29-year-old center back — who came to the Seattle Sounders in an offseason trade four seasons removed from back-to-back Defender-of-the-Year awards — has looked more and more like his old self in each successive week. But the way he played in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union was of particularly stellar vintage.
Not only did Marshall score the game-winning goal — off a header from a Marco Pappa corner kick in the 84th minute — but he also cleared two shots off the line and blocked at least four other dangerous opportunities.
“He was stellar as usual and today he topped it with a game-winner,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who faced 16 shots but only had to make one save. “That whole second half Philly had some very, very dangerous positions where they were trying to take shots — and Djimi [Traore] also had a couple blocks. They were dangerous positions and they don’t even get a shot on frame. I love that. I hope they can keep on doing that.
“I think everybody knows, the less shots on frames the less possibility of a goal. I didn’t really have anything to do.”
Marshall just sees it as part of his job.
“I’m just trying to get in the way,” he said. “I think I have a good adidas tattoo on my back from one of them. Everyone on the whole team is willing to sacrifice their body to keep one out of the net.”
While everyone may be willing to do that stuff, Marshall is showing a particular knack for it. Each week it seems as though he’s making a play to save a goal or at least break up dangerous opportunities.
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Whether or not some had believed him no longer capable of such standout play, the Sounders insist this was exactly what they expected.
“I think he’s always been that player,” said Brad Evans, who played alongside Marshall in 2008. “Any forward, no one wants to play against him because you don’t get any joy and that’s been the past 10 years. He’s just a menace. When he says Chad’s ball, you just clear out and he wins it. That’s how he was today, just putting himself in front of the ball.”
That knack for being in the right place at the right time came in particularly handy in the 42nd minute when Marshall cleared goal-bound balls on back-to-back Union possessions. On the first, Evans denied Sebastien Le Toux, who would had an open look at the goal. Just a few moments later, Marshall denied Le Toux again on an open shot from about 10 yards out.
Evans, at least, believes Marshall has earned some consideration for the US national team. Marshall has not been called in since 2010, prior to Jurgen Klinsmann taking over the program.
“I think Chad deserves to be talked about,” Evans said. “Whether or not it’s too late, he’s going to play likeis the last game because that’s how he plays. I think he deserves a shot for sure.”