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Marshall Has Best Month Ever

September 2, 2009
ChadMarshall

Chad Marshall (MLSNet.com)

Chad Marshall was named MLS Player of the Month for August. He scored two goals and the Crew only gave up one for the entire month in league play (yes, we are ignoring Cruz Azul even happened). He made the travelling squad for a U.S. v. Mexico game. He spent his off week working out with the U.S. National Team in preparation for this weekends World Cup Qualifier. A very full month for the best defender in the league.

It is very interesting to watch the arc of Chad Marshall’s career. After coming out of Stanford after one year in 2004 and being the 2nd pick in the draft (after Freddy Adu), Marshall played in 28 games hid rookie year and 30 in 2005. He had great talent, but he wasn’t really getting the most out of it. He was a good defender one on one defender, but was not able to pass the ball effectively or organize the defense.

In the 2006 season, Marshall faced his first great adversity in his pro career. New coach Sigi Schmid saw the flaws in Marshall’s game and ruthlessly tried to mold the talented defender into a two way force. This even included a benching by Schmid for the struggling Marshall. He was struggling to adapt his game to the methodical, thoughtful passing game that Schmid was trying to build.

After starting off brightly, earning a national team cap, 2007 would only add to his troubles as he suffered his worst case of concussion like symptoms that would keep him out for a couple of times throughout the year. While turning the corner professionally; Marshall’s injury problem limited him to only 12 games throughout the year for the Crew.

With 2008 marking a  turning point, Marshall had the finest year of his career. He was the backbone of the fiercest defense in the league. Calm in possession, he found open players and allowed the Crew to build from the back. He partnered with an inexperienced centerback in Danny O’Rourke and mentored him into a solid defender. His one on one defending skills were the best in the league. He also may have been the most devastating aerial target in the league.

2009 has been more of the same, but even better. He has help mold a rookie defender, Eric Brunner, into an outstanding partnership. He is rarely beaten by an offensive player. His passing and vision have improved over last year’s high standards. He has seriously worked his way into MVP consideration and he is making a serious bid to be included on the U.S. World Cup team. It is a complete reversal from the benched young defender of three short years ago to a leader of the best team in MLS over the last two years.

Much like Schelotto, I will enjoy every time I get to watch Marshall play. This may be his last season in town. A defender who can score goals is a rare commodity. I would not be surprised to see a European team scoop him up over the winter. It would be the right reward for a player who has developed into such a complete player.

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