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Chad Marshall, Seattle’s Humble Prankster

The Sounders defender leads one way on the field, and another way in the locker room

Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Photos Mike Russell,

Seattle Sounders defender Chad Marshall is no shrinking violet on the pitch—he’s loud, he’s tough, and he’ll fight for every single tackle for 90 minutes straight. Teammate Herculez Gomez said that Marshall has a “nasty” side, but it’s only ever seen on the pitch. In the locker room and beyond, Marshall is pretty much the opposite: a goofy prankster, encouraging teammate, and when it comes to talking about himself—actually a bit shy and humble. “I’m not a ‘talk-about-me’ kinda guy,” Marshall said. “I’m not super comfortable talking about myself. I think it means more when other people talk about you.”

Marshall’s locker room presence has already become a bit legendary in Seattle, where he has a reputation for playing harmless pranks on teammates. Multiple players have mentioned Marshall’s tendency to, as Gomez puts it, “put on Stefan Frei’s clothes and prance around the locker room.” It’s clearly harmless, and Marshall himself smirked as he recalled the first time he decided to try on the goalkeeper’s clothes. “I think he wore like some weird, thin, flowery, see-through shirt one day and I thought we were probably close to the same size, so I wanted to see how this looks.” Marshall said that it’s been a bit of a tradition...but only “if I see his outfit and I have to see how I look in it so I’ll throw it on.” He admits that Frei’s skinny jeans are occasionally a bit too tight for him.

The dichotomy of Marshall’s on-field and off-field personas is an important one, something that the veteran defender has been cultivating for a long time. By neutralizing his intense playing mentality, he’s able to be an example and mentor to the younger guys on the team. “I try and be someone the young guys can come to, while also being that jokester kinda guy. I try and stay young that way.” Head coach Brian Schmetzer also praised Marshall’s dynamic skill set and personality, “he is dedicated to his craft, he’s a cerebral guy, he thinks about his defending and his play, and then he’s a big teddy bear sometimes. We like having him around.”

The other thing that’s most often mentioned about Marshall is his lack of opportunities with the US national team. Gomez is adamant that Marshall is one of the best defenders to ever play in Major League Soccer, and said that the MLS stigma is what’s kept Marshall from getting more chances at the international level. “If Chad would have played abroad anywhere else in the world, he would have been a national team mainstay, because there’s that stigma.”

Having not received a USMNT call-up for seven years, Marshall said that while he does wish he had more chances to prove himself at that level, he’s made peace with it. “When I look back on my career when I’m done, it’s definitely something I wish I had a bigger role in, US Soccer. But with that being said, I’m kind of over talking about the US Soccer things, it’s been seven years, kind of beating a dead horse.”

Herculez Gomez said that foreign players have asked him for years why Marshall isn’t a regular with the national team, especially considering that he’s won MLS Defender of the Year a whopping three times (2008, 2009, 2014). In fact, Gomez said that he’s convinced that “when it’s all said and done, they’re gonna call it the Chad Marshall Defender of the Year award.”

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