If the Seattle Sounders are to advance to the Western Conference Finals for a third consecutive year, they will have to accomplish the task without Center back Chad Marshall who underwent meniscus surgery Tuesday morning head coach Brian Schmetzer announced after the team’s practice Tuesday afternoon.
The only player in MLS League history to be named MLS Defender of the year was the lynchpin in a Seattle defense that ranked second in the league in fewest goals allowed. Marshall stellar play in the stout Sounders defense has put him in the running for the 2018 MLS Defender of the year.
Marshall suffered an innocuous non-contact injury in the 37th minute of Sundays Leg one match at Providence Park in Portland. Marshall was replaced by Panamanian captain Roman Torres three minutes later. The Timbers were holding a 2-1 lead at the time of the Marshall injury and were able to hold on for the victory.
Torress will most likely team up with Kim Kee-hee the experienced South Korean defender the Sounders acquired in February. Torres and Kim have started just two games together. The two experienced World Cup veterans will need to be on the same page when defending the middle of Seattle’s defense. The counter-attacking Timbers will try to play balls between the two defenders as well as have players run at one or both them to destabilize the Seattle defenders who need to be sharp in their communication and movement when closing down ball carriers running a the goal box.
In addition to the Marshall injury midfielder, Cristian Roldan who also left the first leg with a hip flexor injury is listed as day-to-day according to Schmetzer. If Roldan is unable to play on Thursday, winger Harry Shipp will most likely step in. While he is not as fast as Roldan, Shipp is more accurate passer when it comes short pass in the middle of the field. What the Sounders will miss if Roldan is unable to play will be his speed, creativity on the offensive side of the field and defensive ability to close on defense. His partnership with Osvaldo Alonso was a major factor in the Sounders recording setting resurgence during the second half of the season with a (14-2-1)
The injuries are an obvious major concern but the Sounders have enough depth on the roster to overcome the setback. The key to a Sounders victory will be discipline and positioning on offense, defense, set pieces, and transition.