By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart
Chad Marshall retires as the most decorated MLS defender of all time.
By the numbers, Chad Marshall was an incredibly dominant defender with 409 games played, 26 goals scored, 16 assists, and 35,843 minutes played. The only player in MLS history to win Defender of the Year 3 times (2008, 2009 and 2014), 4 times MLS All-Star, 4 times MLS Best XI, 4 times Supporters Shield Winner and 2 times MLS Cup Champion.
Marshall walks away from MLS with the 2nd most games and minutes played by a field player in history. He is decorated, accomplished and undeniably an amazing player. But there was so much more to what made and continues to make, Chad Marshall a great human being.
In July 2014, my husband and I got married the night before the Portland Timbers were traveling to Seattle for the one and only time that season. As an inaugural Sounders season ticket holder and boisterous Rave Green fan, my husband wanted to tie this in to our big day. We decided that we would wear our wedding attire to the game and bring as many friends and family as possible.
Through our season ticket holder benefits, we were able to watch the last 20 minutes of the game from field level and allowed to linger after the final whistle to high-five players and watch the post-game events. As we were relishing in the Sounders 2-0 victory and taking in all the sights, Chad Marshall spotted me wearing my big, dirty and previously-beautiful dress. He made eye contact and pointed at me. I waved, thinking it was so cool he even had noticed, and he began to walk over to us.
“You’re wearing a wedding dress! Did you guys just get married?” he asked with a huge grin.
“Yesterday.” My husband and I said in unison, like two star-struck fans.
“That’s awesome! Let’s take a picture!” Chad said. So we did!
In that moment, after a massive win against a major rival, Chad Marshall was so down to earth and kind. He made our day (and my husband’s screen saver for several years) and made a lasting impact on us that transcended what we saw of him as a soccer player.
Four years later, my husband and I were attending the Sounders Season Ticket Member Celebration with our 2-year-old son in tow. He was too young to understand how cool it was to attend this event. He loved sitting on the team bench, running around the field at CenturyLink and people watching all the big kids, but he had no idea who any of the players were. He just ran around saying “play soccer!” and that was enough for us.
During the event, we were given the opportunity to meet team players, which was such a special opportunity for my husband and myself. As we were waiting in line, we realized that Chad Marshall was one of the players posing for pictures and signing autographs. When we came face to face with him, I awkwardly asked, “Can you take a picture with our son?” to which he swiftly responded “Absolutely!”
We knew our son, Sawyer, wouldn’t understand how cool this moment was. But we did. It was a full circle moment having stood with Marshall on that same field 4 years earlier in our wedding attire and now with our son, who had attended every Sounders match that fell outside of nap and bedtime since he was 3 months old, taking a picture with Chad Marshall.
My husband and I don’t know Marshall. These two encounters are all we have to base our opinion of who he is off the field and outside of all the record-breaking stats. But those two moments highlighted to us what so many of his peers have said about him publicly in the wake of his retirement: that the man off the field was just as much a GOAT as the player.
Thank you, Chad. For everything.
Featured image: @SoundersFC
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