Almost no one disputes that Chad Marshall is one of the best American centerbacks of all time. At the very least, he has a very strong claim for best-ever centerback in MLS history as the only three-time winner of the Defender of the Year award and being named to four Best XI’s in his career.
Yet Marshall’s United States national team resume is relatively thin. Marshall’s 12 senior caps are fewer than such contemporary defenders as Heath Pearce (35), Michael Parkhurst (25), Danny Califf (23), Matt Miazga (21) and Eric Lichaj (18).
Marshall, who has comfortably settled into a self-described post-playing career as “just a dad”, was asked for his personal theory on why he was never more involved despite his qualifications, under three different full-time head coaches.
“That’s the tough thing about it, you can feel and other people can feel like you deserve to be there and get an opportunity, but it’s really one coach’s opinion of you that really matters,” Marshall said during this week’s episode of Side x Side. “It’s just the way he sees the game and you don’t get called in. Bob [Bradley] had me in the last two years being coach of the national team. I did my hamstring right before the World Cup camp in 2010. Of course I wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity, but I wasn’t really fit and I kinda knew how it was going to go. I was one of the last cuts.”
It would be one thing if that happened toward the end of his career, but in actuality, he had eight more productive seasons after that. Marshall even believes his best years were from 2014-2018 when he won two Defender of the Year awards with the Sounders. Marshall had just one cap during his years with the Sounders, a January friendly against Serbia in 2017.
“I never had a conversation with Jurgen [Klinsmann]. Not one,” Marshall said. “I guess I didn’t really fit the way he played. I also had the opportunity to go to Germany and I chose to come back to MLS. I don’t know if he was aware of that and figured I wasn’t serious enough for him or for the team. I really don’t know. I ask myself the same questions. Eventually, you just have to acknowledge you’re not part of it and move on.”
If it’s any consolation, Marshall seems to be at peace with this particular frustration. The 36-year-old gives off a strong satisfied-with-his-lot-in-life vibe and seems to have settled into a perfectly pleasant post-playing career as a stay-at-home dad. He still watches the Sounders, believes Cristian Roldan deserves more of a USMNT look, and can’t understand how Brian Schmetzer doesn’t receive more accolades. In other words, he seems to be a lot like us.