Dec 12, 2013, 8:02 PM EDT
This one got blown away by all the mid-day Re-Entry Draft news, but for the Seattle Sounders, today’s trade with the Columbus Crew could represent a significant, much-needed upgrade. A defensive corps that’s been shielded by Osvaldo Alonso and saved by Michael Gspurning was acquired a borderline all-star player, and while two-time Defender of the Year Chad Marshall may not be resume his trophy gathering ways, he may provide a big improvement for a central defense that was picked apart in the Major League Soccer playoffs.
Today the Sounders picked up the 29-year-old for a third round pick and allocation, a $361,250 salary in 2013 meaning the two-time Best XI honoree could be had for picks and funny money. For a team desperate to solve the problems in central defense — one that could reunite the 11-time international with Sigi Schmid, a coach he won a title with in Columbus — it may prove a price worth paying.
Seattle, who had the league’s second best defense in 2012, gave up 42 goals last year, most among the West’s playoff teams. In late season blowout losses to Colorado and Vancouver, the defense’s limitations helped throw the team into a late tailspin, with five goals allowed over two legs in the Western Conference semifinals sending the Sounders crashing out of the playoffs. With Seattle’s midfield part of the problem, the team couldn’t cover for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Djimi Traoré.
With players like Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Victor Bernardez and Jose Goncalves in the league, Marshall no longer enjoys a place among the league’s elite defenders, MLS’s talent having improved since the time he was winning Defender of the Year honors. But as the Crew have waned and attentions have turned elsewhere, the 10-year veteran has continued persisted in his excellence. Were it not for the lack of attention Columbus gets on the national scene, both Marshall and Federico Higuaín would have garnered more consideration for postseason honors.
A lack of attention is something Marshall won’t have to worry about in Seattle. If he performs for the Sounders as he did last year for the Crew, he should regain some of that lost recognition, particularly since that will lead to more wins for the Sounders. At his salary, however, the Sounders should expect nothing less than all-star production, with a huge chunk of the cap room they cleared out earlier this week taken up by today’s acquisition.
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