As Sunday’s match between Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders is rapidly approaching, news broke today that long-time Sounders center back Chad Marshall would retire effective immediately.
“After more than 15 years of living my childhood dream, the time has come for me to hang up the boots,” Marshall in a statement provided by the team. “I’d like to thank everyone that has played a part in my career. To my teammates, support staff and coaches: you’ve been my second family. The locker room is what I’ll miss the most. Thank you to the fans of Seattle and Columbus for supporting me throughout the years, as well as the Sounders FC and Columbus Crew SC organizations for giving me a chance to represent them on the field. Most importantly, I’d like to thank my family. I’m forever indebted to them for the sacrifices they’ve made in allowing me to pursue this dream. From heartbreaking losses to MLS Cup wins, own goals to cartwheels, it’s been a blast.”
Marshall has been dealing with injuries for sometime. He had surgery in the offseason after picking up an injury in the playoffs against the Portland Timbers. According to our sister blog Sounders at Heart, he has been battling knee pain much of this season. The retirement comes as a surprise though as he was expected to finish the 2019 season.
This is the second straight season that a Sounders player has retired abruptly. Last year Clint Dempsey retired in the middle of the season and the team honored him at the road match Sporting KC played in Seattle.
Marshall played in eight of Seattle’s 13 matches so far this year (all starts). His last appearance was against Minnesota United on April 4th where he played the full 90 minutes. This season, Seattle are 2-1-2 without Marshall in the lineup and 5-0-3 when he plays.
The Sounders have already signed Marshall’s replacement with the addition of new Designated Player Xavier Arreaga. According to SAH, he could join the team as early as Thursday. There is no word on if he’ll be available against Sporting KC.
The Sounders have another quality center back available in Roman Torres but until Arreaga is with the team the center back depth is questionable. Jonathan Campbell, a former member of the Chicago Fire and Gustav Svensson are the only other options listed by SAH but Kim Kee-hee has played CB before. Svensson is naturally a midfielder.
Another potential option is former Sporting KC right back Saad Abdul-Salaam. He has been playing right back for Seattle as of late. He has three appearances including two starts where he went the full 90. He’s 6’4” tall so his size may be a good fit. However, without Krisztian Nemeth being available, it’s unclear who on SKC can exploit the openings that SAS may leave.
In all seriousness, Chad Marshall was a legend. He’s one of the best MLS defenders of all-time and the league will be worse without him. That said, no SKC fans will be upset that they don’t have to deal with his monstrous presence in the box going forward.