The towering center back has now netted as many goals this year as had in the previous five seasons combined. Plus: Brian Schmetzer on the Marshall/Roman Torres partnership and Nicolas Lodeiro on his costly yellow card.
Chad Marshall’s 24th-minute goal in the 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field was his fourth of the season, third-most on the Sounders behind only Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey.
The towering center back has now netted as many goals this year as he had in the previous five seasons combined. And Marshall could have easily bagged another last weekend against the Galaxy, another goal-bound header off another corner kick instead credited to L.A.’s Jelle Van Damme.
Marshall’s sudden goal-scoring prowess isn’t due to some drastic change in how the Sounders are deploying him. It’s not as if he is marauding up field into the attack, and he’s been used as a set-piece target from the moment he arrived from Columbus prior to the 2014 season.
Instead, both Marshall and interim coach Brian Schmetzer give credit more to those around him than to any change in his style of play.
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Andreas Ivanschitz assisted both on Marshall’s goal against the Fire and the one ultimately turned in by Van Damme at the StubHub Center. The Austrian midfielder has had a strong recent run of matches, more aggressive in pushing forward and with extra bite on the set-piece crosses he’s long been lauded for.
“That’s his game,” Marshall said of Ivanschitz. “That’s what he’s known for. He serves a great ball, it’s just a matter of making good runs.”
It also helps having Roman Torres back in the lineup after a long rehabilitation from knee surgery, “drawing another big dude” in Marshall’s words and freeing up more elbow room in the box.
“Teams now have to watch for Roman, which frees up Chad,” Schmetzer said, “and you also have Flaco (Fernandez) who is good in the air, and Jordan, who is a big body. Then you have a guy who swings the ball in there, I think that creates problems for other teams.”
– Schmetzer hesitated when asked after Wednesday’s match whether Marshall and Torres have already developed into the top defensive combination in MLS, saying he didn’t want to put any unfair pressure on a budding partnership still barely a month old. He did, however, share some helpful insight as to why he thinks they play so well off each other.
“(Torres) is aggressive in nature,” Schmetzer said. “In 2014, when Zach Scott was next to Chad for large parts of the season, Zach had a little bit more of an aggressive mindset. I think Chad balanced with a guy who is a little bit angrier, a little bit feistier, I think that is a good mix. You don’t want to have two really angry guys, because they’re prone to make mistakes. You don’t want to have two calm and calculating guys, because then they’re both the same.
“I think the give and take of the two of them is the start of a really good combination.”
– Nicolas Lodeiro, a leading force behind Seattle’s late-season turnaround, will miss Sunday’s match at Vancouver after picking up a cheap yellow card midway through the second half. The card was his fifth in 10 MLS matches, triggering an automatic one-game suspension, and afterward the Uruguayan playmaker took responsibility for his costly miscue.
“It was naive on my part,” Lodeiro said through a translator. “I didn’t want the other player to play the ball fast so I placed myself in the middle. He was smart (and) I was annoyed with myself, but sometimes it happens. I was worried because I knew that the fifth yellow would keep me away from the next game, but I need to learn from these mistakes.”