For three-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, it's frustrating to come out of a game in which one little incident, one little choice, marred your otherwise excellent performance. When Marshall was judged to have fouled Vancouver's Blas Perez in the Sounders' penalty box on Saturday, it was extremely hard to tell in the moment, what exactly happened. In the days following, it's been pretty clear that both of Vancouver's penalties were wrongfully given.
Marshall explains what he saw in the moment, but admits that he hasn't and doesn't really care to watch a replay of the incident. "They played a ball over the top, it was a footrace with Perez. I go to ground there, I think without the contact initiated by him, then I get to the ball." He felt Perez's hip check throw him off a little, so that his tackle wasn't as clean as he had intended. "I think that hip throws me off and I don't get there. I think I'm going to the ball the whole time, I think that his contact into me causes all the contact to begin with."
As an experienced player, Marshall admits that it wasn't the best decision to go to ground, and would likely do it differently if he could. "I probably just need to be smarter there and stay on my feet, and not make the ref have to make that decision."
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid agreed with Marshall's assessment, noting that sort of tackle is called only about half the time in Major League Soccer.
"In all the games this weekend, you can probably see 10 slide tackles that are similar and maybe only 50% get called as fouls," Schmid said. Either way, even though Schmid sympathizes with the situation, he said that forcing the referee to make that call is "not the best place to be."
Penalties, even those dubiously awarded, are a part of the game and Marshall accepts that. Incidents like those against Vancouver are frustrating, but it's important to move on and look to the next opponent. Even though it's pretty normal to view tape of one's performances to find things to improve on, Marshall admitted that he hasn't "watched any replays of the game, it's just frustrating and I'm trying to put it behind me and move on."
Even though nothing has been reported yet, there is speculation that the first penalty decision against the Sounders, which has since been shown to have had no contact whatsoever from Sounders defender Joevin Jones, could result in a retroactive ban or fine for Vancouver's Christian Bolanos. Marshall said such decisions are little consolation to the defenders that were affected in the moment. "It's a wins-and-losses type of sport. Hopefully it helps crack down in the future, so guys are less willing to do something like that. But it doesn't make defenders feel any better about the game."
Despite the poor results and dubious penalty decisions, Marshall sees plenty of positives for the Sounders defense. "I think we're playing well, it's just been like fluky, random goals. You just want to eliminate those. But I think for the most part, we're happy with the way we're playing. Sigi said if we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck right now. So, we just gotta stay positive, it's a long season and we want to try and turn things around."
Jones, in particular, has been a bright spot for the Sounders defense since the club acquired him in the summer. Marshall appreciates Jones' skills and sees him as an important part of the defensive unit. "He's been great, I think he's a huge acquisition for us. You can see how comfortable he is on the ball and going forward. On top of that, he's a great 1v1 defender, so I think he's been a huge asset for us."