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Three Time MLS Defender of the Year, Chad Marshall, Announces Retirement

Chad Marshall Seattle Sounders
"Thank you Chad" image for Chad Marshall | Image by Seattle Sounders | May 22, 2019

On Wednesday May 22, 2019, after 16 seasons, 409 regular season matches, three MLS Defender of the Year awards, four Supporters’ Shields, two MLS Cups, and a US Open Cup, Chad Marshall announced that he was hanging up his boots.

And frankly it sucks.

Let me be clear that I am extremely happy for Marshall to be starting the next chapter of his life and for him to have the opportunity to spend more time with his family now that he is retired.

But as a soccer fan it really sucks to know that we’ll never get to watch Chad Marshall play another game. We’ll never get to see another headed goal from “Air-Marshall” or his understated goal celebrations. We’ll miss the brilliant defensive mind that made him the league’s only three time Defender of the Year winner and earned him his fourth career MLS Best XI award in 2018.

We’ll also miss his sometimes understated but often goofy personality that, along with his senior status with the club, lead to Sounders fans affectionately referring to him as “Dad.”

Marshall sits second all-time amongst MLS field players and fourth overall in league history for appearances, starts, and minutes played and did so playing for just two clubs: Columbus Crew SC and Seattle Sounders FC.

The timing also sucks for the Sounders as well. It was a poorly kept secret that Seattle signed 24-year-old Ecuadorian center defender Xavier Arreaga knowing that this would likely be Marshall’s final season but the degeneration of Marshall’s knee joint after tearing his meniscus during last year’s playoff match in Portland has caused this season to be cut short.

Seattle was already expecting to be short handed during the international break in June and early July where they could be missing as many as 12 players against Montreal due to international matches. With Marshall’s retirement, that Montreal lineup could look like a back four of Kelvin Leerdam, Jonathan Campbell, Sam Rogers (called up from Tacoma Defiance), and Saad Abdul-Salaam which is far from Seattle’s ideal defense.

Initial thoughts might be that Marshall’s retirement would clear up cap space to allow Seattle to make another signing come the Summer transfer window but the Sounders are still on the hook for his 2019 salary and any request to the league for relief from his contract would mean not paying Marshall. It sucks if you do, it sucks if you don’t.

It’s a different kind of relief then for Sounders fans that general Manager Garth Lagerwey has already said that the club still feels they have enough cap space to make another signing this summer even with Marshall’s contract on the books so if they feel they need to add another player this season they still can.

The void left by Marshall’s retirement will be most felt in the Seattle locker room where he was a club favorite as evidenced by players Tweeting their love and support for the veteran center back after his retirement announcement. That void won’t be easy to fill and it will take time for the team to adjust but thankfully the pieces are already in place to fill in for him on the field and eventually others will step into the veteran leadership role.

It still sucks to say goodbye.

Let’s just hope Marshall gets to join his fellow retiree and good friend Brad Evans on a camping trip or two.

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