Despite going undefeated in the month of May, a huge presence in the Crew locker room was absent as Chad Marshall missed the entire month due to a concussion he suffered while training in Portland before the club's match against Timbers FC on May 5.
Marshall has been symptom-free for almost a week now and has been cleared by doctors to return to exercising after being unable to get his heart-rate up while recovering from the injury. The Crew captain began running again on Saturday in order to work his way back to full fitness.
"It's unfortunate," Marshall said after his workout on Monday afternoon in Obetz. "You go through almost two months preseason to get fit and then to have to take a month off. It's kind of a setback, but I've been through it before and taken time off and been able to come back pretty fast from a fitness perspective so I'll try to do that again this time."
Having missed 17 matches during the 2007 season due to concussions, the two-time MLS Defender of the Year knows the importance of taking time to properly recover from head injuries.
"Every time you get hit, you think about it because of what happened in the past. That's why it's important to take the right amount of time to make sure everything is OK," Marshall explained. "I'm glad I didn't try to push it and play in that Portland game to risk further injuring myself."
Marshall hopes to be ready as soon as possible, but both he and Crew head coach Robert Warzycha admitted that there is currently no timetable for the captain's return.
"I'm just kind of doing the progression and seeing how the head feels after each day," Marshall said.
When Marshall does return, it will present Warzycha with the difficult challenge of choosing between five healthy center backs to pair together in his starting XI following the returns of Carlos Mendes and Julius James in the past two weeks after both players missed the first three months of the season due to injury.
It's a good problem to have for the Crew head coach.
"It brings competition on the field," Warzycha said. "It's good to have them back, mostly because they make practice more interesting and better, it carries over in games."