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Legendary Crew defender Chad Marshall announces his retirement

One of the Massive champions leaves an enormous legacy.

2008 MLS Cup Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Former Columbus Crew SC defender, and current Seattle Sounder, Chad Marshall announced his retirement on Wednesday, bringing to the end a career that has spanned 16 years and 409 regular season Major League Soccer games. During his storied career, Marshall won four Supporters Shields, two MLS Cups, was on the MLS Best XI four times and was named MLS Defender of the Year a record three times.

Marshall struggled with knee inflammation due to degeneration of the knee joint recently. The injury forced the him retire.

Marshall turned pro after his sophomore season at Stanford University and was picked second in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft by the Crew after D.C. United selected Freddie Adu with the first pick. He quickly adapted to the pro game, making 28 starts his rookie year.

Partnering with veteran Robin Frasier, Marshall was part of the Crew’s 2004 Supporter Shield winning campaign. The team was bounced from the playoffs in the first round and Marshall had to wait three long seasons to play playoff soccer again. During the team’s nadir between 2005 and 2007, Marshall turned into one of the league’s best defenders while the Crew missed the playoffs.

Marshall became the defensive leader during the Black & Gold’s resurgence. He was named the MLS Defensive Player of the year during the 2008 MLS Cup-winning season. Marshall added a second straight Defensive Player of the Year award in 2009 during the Crew’s second straight Supporters Shield-winning season. Both years, Marshall made the MLS Best XI.

Despite being a center back, Marshall was prolific offensively, scoring 26 regular season goals, but saved up his best goals for the big stage of the playoffs. Memorably, he scored twice during the 2008 playoffs, first bringing the Crew level with the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference Final and then powering Columbus back into the lead in MLS Cup for the goal that wound up the winner.

Marshall’s time with the Crew came to an end after the 2013 season. Then head coach Gregg Berhalter traded the stalwart defender to the Seattle Sounders in December for a third-round SuperDraft pick in 2015 and allocation money. The move reunited him with former Crew coach Sigi Schmid.

Averaging 25 games per season, Marshall collected a team-record 253 appearances during his decade with the Black & Gold. He was sidelined during the 2007 season with a concussion and suffered a second in 2011. Marshall recovered both times and chose to continue playing.

After his move to Seattle, Marshall quickly became a key part of the Sounders’ backline. He earned his third MLS Defender of the Year award and helped the team to a Supporters Shield in 2014. He was also the defensive leader of the team’s 2016 MLS Cup-winning season. Ultimately he made 156 appearances for the Sounders in a little over five years with the team. He made the MLS Best XI in 2014 and 2018 with Seattle.

Marshall made 11 appearances with the U.S. Men’s National Team, earning his first cap in 2005. He made the 2009 Gold Cup team and was in the 2010 World Cup preliminary roster. Marshall waited seven years before getting his final shot with the national team during the 2017 January training camp.

No defender in MLS history was as decorated as Marshall. He was recognized for his individual brilliance three times by MLS and his teams were the best in the league four of the 15 seasons he finished. Marshall was a winner and a well regarded teammate. He was part of two acclaimed teams, both coached by Schmid, the back-to-back Supporters’ Shield-winning Crew and the Sounders team that has yet to miss the playoffs during their existence. It’s safe to say this was a Hall of Fame career.