Sounders defender Chad Marshall glad team ‘had my back’ in getting red card overturned

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Sounders defender Chad Marshall, a candidate for MLS Defender of the Year, will not have to serve a suspension against Vancouver next week after his red card from last Saturday was rescinded. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) OTK OTK (Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press)

The Sounders took a risk appealing Saturday's red card levied against Chad Marshall. But their appeal — part of which consisted of a Seattle Times story on the incident — paid off this week when an independent panel rescinded the referee's ruling.

Sounders defender Chad Marshall said Thursday he’s glad his team took up the fight on his behalf to overturn a red card he had no idea what he did to deserve.

“I certainly didn’t go into the challenge looking to hurt anyone,’’ he said of Saturday’s tackle of Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell.

A three-man independent panel consisting of a representative from the United States Soccer Federation, another from the Canadian Soccer Association and a third nominated by the Professional Referee Organization this week unanimously overturned the ruling after a Sounders appeal. Part of the Sounders case included forwarding to the panel a Seattle Times story from Saturday’s match in which referee Baldomero Toledo explained why he’d ejected Marshall after a video review of the 77thminute incident.

Toledo wrote to The Times, acting in a pool reporter capacity, that his consideration for the red card was Marshall delivering a “straight leg, cleats to opponent’s upper calf and knee; a foul which endangered the safety of his opponent.’’

Afterward, Toledo and video assistant referee Dave Gantar showed The Times a video replay they’d seen, saying the ball appeared to be moving in a different direction from where Marshall was when he launched into the kick that struck Russell’s leg.

The Sounders sought to refute that argument and others in their appeal. The panel, as per its usual procedure, did not disclose the reason it overturned Toledo’s call.

The appeal was a risk of sorts, since teams only get up to two unsuccessful ones per season and forfeit a $25,000 bond if they use up both. Also, had the appeal been deemed “frivolous’’ by the panel, the Sounders would have lost the bond and Marshall’s suspension would have been doubled.

And from a practical sense, they were risking a lot with little to gain on the field.  The lifting of Marshall’s automatic one-game suspension — and only the second red card of his career — means he’ll get to play at rival Vancouver on Sept. 15.

But that’s only one of three games they’ll play that week, meaning Marshall likely would have sat out at least one for rest purposes whether suspended or not. The team has a healthy third center back in Roman Torres that’s one of a plethora of talented Sounders battling just to get on the field.

Still, a positive benefit for Marshall is the rescinded red card likely won’t become a black mark against him as he wages a close battle for what would be his fourth MLS Defender of the Year Award.

“I appreciate the club stepping up and appealing it, because there are consequences if the appeal doesn’t go your way,’’ Marshall said, adding he’s glad the Sounders “had my back” and pushed things.

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, whose team has won a league record eight straight games in the post-shootout era and gone unbeaten in 11, said he’s glad to put the episode to rest. Schmetzer said the team’s video crew sent a compilation of angles of the play to the league to help bolster Marshall’s case and “help the referees make a tough choice, because it wasn’t an easy choice.

“I mean, I could see it both ways,’’ he added. “But I thought that it was a little soft, so I’m happy that our guy came out on top.’’

Schmetzer said the team was confident the appeal would succeed because of the way Marshall briefly turned towards the ball — anticipating it deflecting back his way — even though it was moving in a different direction.

“It wasn’t like Chad was coming straight forward and tackling in a forward motion that endangered the opponent,’’ he said.

Schmetzer added: “When you have the one still shot (circulated on social media) yeah, it looks like a dangerous play. But if you watch it all develop and how the play manifested itself,that’s where we had a little bit of cause that maybe they should take another look at it.’’

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com. . Geoff Baker covers the Sounders and is a sports enterprise and investigative reporter for The Seattle Times who writes a column on hockey and the NHL.