Chad Marshall returned to Columbus Crew training on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a concussion on May 4. Having experienced concussions previously – he missed the final two months of the 2007 season because of the symptoms – this layoff left him contemplating the possibility of a future without soccer in ways that previous injuries have not.
“Definitely I was scared,” he told MLSsoccer.com after practice. “Obviously, I like playing this sport for a living and I want to continue that. The uncertainty I had for a month wondering if the symptoms were going to go away was kind of scary.”
The Crew captain has had several concussions in the past five seasons but always returned within a couple of weeks. This time was different.
“This one felt more like when I got hit in 2007,” he said. “It just didn’t feel right. I was mentally kind of foggy [and had] all the symptoms of a concussion, like sensitivity to light. It’s hard to describe. You just know you’re not as crisp as you should be. You can’t watch TV or look at a computer too long.”
Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha said Marshall will not play Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, but could be available July 8 at Montreal.
“He needs to do some fitness,” Warzycha said. “We don’t want to push him too much because he can get injured. Usually what happens is you’re out two months and you try to go too fast, there’s a muscle injury and you’re out another two months.”
Marshall, a two-time MLS Defender of the year, could not do anything to raise his heart rate for the first month after the injury. Even just riding an exercise bike and jogging were off limits. With plenty of free time he couldn’t help but think about what was ahead for him.
“The worst part was not knowing if you’re ever going to be symptom-free,” noted Marshall.
The injury occurred during practice the day before the match at Portland on May 5 when a volley by rookie Ethan Finlay from about eight yards during a small-sided game caught Marshall flush on the right side of his head before he could react.
“The [concussions] I’ve gotten have been significant hits,” Marshall said. “It was reported that I got a concussion just heading the ball, which wasn’t the case. [Finlay] hit a hard ball. I got smacked in the side of the face. That’s a good thing, I guess. [The concussions are] not just [from] regular headers.”
“When you get hurt it makes you sit back and really realize what you had,” Marshall added. “Hopefully I’ll take advantage of that.”