COLUMBUS, Ohio – The good news is Chad Marshall woke up Thursday morning with a clear head. That’s not always been the case for the Crew’s star defender.
He played 45 minutes the night before against New England in a preseason match Wednesday in Kennesaw, Ga., for his first action since a blow to the head Feb. 21 caused concussion-like symptoms that forced him to miss two CONCACAF Champions League games.
“I didn’t go for a few balls that I normally would,” said Marshall. “I was a little apprehensive, but I still took a few headers. It wasn’t like the typical 10 to 15 headers a game, but those few didn’t bother me and I felt all right."
The center back added that that gives him the confidence to be more aggressive against Houston in Columbus' final preseason match this weekend.
Marshall, the MLS Defender of the Year in 2008 and ’09, has reason to be cautious. He sat the final two months of the 2007 season after suffering three concussions. He also missed a game in each of the past two years after getting hit in the head.
[inline_node:320032]By the nature of his position, Marshall is prone to get knocks to the cranium as he marks opponents. And, as one of the best aerial players in the league, he is always around the ball.
“He’s a defender,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “He’s going to jump for a lot of balls. He has more risk for concussions than anybody else.”
Ironically, it was a play on the ground that felled him the most recent time around. As the team trained in Crew Stadium on a wet pitch the day before their first Champions League game against Real Salt Lake, Marshall went to reach around a player to steal the ball during an eight-vs.-eight scrimmage and slipped in front of midfielder Robbie Rogers.
“Robbie was on the other team making a run through and I fell and his knee or lower thigh caught me on the upper side of the head,” Marshall said. “It wasn’t really that big of a hit, but I wasn’t bracing for it. If you can absorb it a little bit, it’s not as bad when you see it coming. When you don’t see it coming, that’s when it gets you.”
Marshall said the injury wasn’t as debilitating as some he has experienced.
“I had the headache,” he said. “It felt similar to what I had in the past, but I didn’t have that out-of-it feeling … or anything like that.”
Marshall is acutely aware that he is more susceptible to a concussion because he is a repeat victim. At just 26 years old, he’s worried about any possible effects that could haunt him later on in life.
“I’m pretty concerned,” he said. “I don’t want to have problems later in life if I have to stop playing. I can’t play soccer forever."
Marshall said he was thinking of contacting some athletes who have had multiple concussions to get an understanding of what could be ahead for him. He hasn’t ruled out wearing protective head gear, but said he needs to do more research before deciding.