At halftime of Saturday's match against the Montreal Impact, many expected the game to finish like so many have for the Columbus Crew this season: The Crew give up an early goal, and cannot rebound to find the points they so desperately need.
But just after the half, veteran defender Chad Marshall rose above the Montreal defense on a Federico Higuain free kick and powered a header past 'keeper Troy Perkins. The goal was the first of the season for Marshall, and came at an important time in the Crew's late-season playoff push.
“It felt big at the time,” he told MLSSoccer.com at Crew training Tuesday. “We kind of all got together and celebrated at the top of the 18, and it felt like guys were fired up. I was glad to get that, and it seemed like a pivotal point in the game where the momentum really changed for us.”
The goal did change momentum, and Columbus found a winner from Dominic Oduro, who said that Marshall's goal was the turning point.
“I told him after the game, his goal really pumped me up,” Oduro said. “We were doing the right things...and his goal came as a relief, telling us we were doing the right thing. It was something that started the team going.”
For Marshall, whose aerial prowess has long been an asset for the Crew, the goal came after an extended scoring drought that had seen several opportunities narrowly missed, and others dramatically saved.
“He's been so close all year, just over the post or just wide or cleared off the line,” Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss said. “So he's been overdue, and the timing of it couldn't have been better.”
While Marshall is glad to have the goal, he says he hopes the success from set pieces continues, after a year in which set piece goals have been more scarce than expected.
“I can't explain why [the goals haven't come]. I wish I could have figured it out. I don't know what it is,” he said. “We definitely work hard and make good runs, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. [Defender Josh Williams] had three in the first few games of the year, but we haven't had many since then. So hopefully they come in bunches.”