At this juncture of the calendar four years ago, Chad Marshall was just hoping to continue his burgeoning career with the Columbus Crew.
Several concussions and related symptoms caused him to miss the final two months of the 2007 season. But he came back more determined than ever in 2008 and, for his efforts, was named the MLS Defender of the Year as the Crew won the MLS Cup.
Marshall repeated the individual award in 2009 and has since become the longest-tenured man on the Crew roster with 199 appearances.
The 27-year-old center back likely will surpass Mike Clark’s team record of 221 appearances (from 1996-2003) next season and add to the mark for years to come after signing an extension on Monday to keep him in a Crew uniform through 2015.
“It feels good, I’m excited,” Marshall told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “Obviously, I’ve been here a long time. I enjoy it and I consider Columbus home. It’s nice to be here for a few more years and see if we can build on the success we’ve had the past few years.”
Marshall was the second pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft and has been a constant in the lineup outside of injuries. His 196 starts are 20 behind Clark’s record.
Columbus technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com that Marshall is critical to maintaining the core of the team.
“With his service to the club and what he’s accomplished, it was a smart decision to try to extend the deal to make it advantageous for the club and make it advantageous for him as well,” Bliss said.
Bliss also likes what the Crew can offer in the defensive center with the addition of Carlos Mendes and the contract extension given to Julius James in July, plus a group of youngsters on the team, including Eric Gehrig and Rich Balchan.
“We’re really competitive there,” Bliss said. “Any additions from here on out are going to be on the offensive end of the field from outside the league.”
The team is working on several signings, but he said nothing is expected before next week. At 6-foot-4, Marshall can add to the offense with his aerial capabilities as well, but after scoring four goals apiece in 2008 and ’09, his lone goal since came in 2010.
“Part of it is service,” Bliss said. “Any time Chad or any defender is getting a couple of goals for you, it’s gravy. But because we’ve been used to him getting three to five goals a year, it would be nice to get a couple out of him every season.”
Marshall took added responsibility in 2011 when he was named team captain.
“He is obviously a very important part of our team,” coach Robert Warzycha said in a statement. “He is also one of the best players in club history and he’s still in his prime, so we couldn’t be happier to get him signed to this new contract.”