Column: Chad Marshall is out, but the Sounders can survive

EDITORIAL (November 7, 2018) – Chad Marshall has accrued a Defender of the Year season with the Seattle Sounders this year.

In 30 matches this season, Marshall has started all appearances. He has compiled four goals and notched one assist, all while only taking 19 shots. A center back, his usual pairing was changed this season. Instead of featuring alongside Román Torres, he paired up with South Korean center back Kim Kee-Hee.

Column: Chad Marshall is out, but the Sounders can survive

Despite the changes for Marshall, he’s been solid for Seattle.

Aside from Stefan Frei, who has kept the Sounders out of incredible amounts of danger in goal, Marshall has been the most consistent player for Seattle this season. Early in the year, when Seattle was down at the bottom of the Western Conference table, Marshall still looked good.

The defense wasn’t bad. Shots just weren’t going in goal.

However, after shots started going in goal, the defense was getting more praise. Kim was getting talked about for his timing on tackles and ability to communicate well with his teammates, despite knowing little English. Mid-season acquisition Brad Smith paired up nicely in a rotation that also included Nouhou and Kelvin Leerdam.

Meanwhile, Marshall was at the front of it all, scoring goals and helping Frei in the attempts at keeping clean sheets. That’s why, on Monday, Brian Schmetzer’s news that Marshall was having surgery on his meniscus came at the worst timing.

Seattle fell to the Portland Timbers, 2-1, in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals. Leg two is on Thursday, and Marshall isn’t even the only injury. Seattle doesn’t know the official status on if midfielder Cristian Roldan — who suffered a hip injury — will be ready to go.

Focusing on Marshall, Schmetzer said that he’ll have more information “once the surgery is successful and he’s back on his feet.” However, despite having little time shared in having Kim and Torres on the same pitch together, Schmetzer is confident that his defense will find a way to win against Portland.

Alluding to Sunday’s match, Schmetzer praised Torres’ leadership.

“Román came on and did a good job,” Schmetzer said, in his press conference on Tuesday. “I enjoy the fact that he brought a bit of physicality in the game, in a good way. He won his headers. There were some good moments there.”

In regard to pairing him with Kim — who has started 28 out of 29 appearances — Schmetzer said that team meetings and practices are getting the two in sync. The last time the two played together was on Sept. 23 against the San Jose Earthquakes.

“They’re two very talented players,” Schmetzer said. “Román was waiting for his chance and here it is, so he’ll be ready. He told me he wanted to play. However, he didn’t want anything bad to happen to Chad, because he’s a good teammate. But, it was his chance to help the team win. Román is a team guy, he wants the team to be successful.”

Seattle can advance with a win in Thursday’s match.

However, despite being at home, the contest won’t be an easy victory. An injury to Marshall is crucial, but Torres is a longtime professional. In a moment like this, Schmetzer needs to be grateful that he has a player like Torres who has experience and leadership. Throwing a young player at center back in a must-win game would be challenging.

It’s not like Schmetzer to doubt his team.

He certainly didn’t do it when the Sounders were sitting in last place in the Western Conference. However, now, the team that’s sitting in second place needs a little help from the offense and a little bit of luck on defense.

“We’ll get guys out there that are going to compete, that are going to play well and we’ll hope for a good result,” Schmetzer said.

Seattle and Portland will kick off at CenturyLink Field at 10:30 p.m. ET. The match will be aired on Fox Sports 1.

PHOTO: Chad Marshall, defender for the Seattle Sounders FC, look up the field for a teammate against the Portland Timbers FC on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. Marshall is out for leg two, which is on Thursday, due to a knee injury. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.