Sounders FC may summon Tyrone Marshall off bench in season's biggest game | MLS Playoffs
Jamaican was team's 2009 defender of year but has been relegated to bench during Sounders' second-half hot streak
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ L.A. Galaxy, 6 p.m., ESPN2
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TUKWILA — The pain from being benched is easy to mask when your team is winning.
Such was the case for Sounders FC defender Tyrone Marshall, a longtime starter who saw his role reduced at the same time Seattle went on a rejuvenated run during the second half of the season.
Marshall, an 11-year MLS veteran, had been a mainstay for the young franchise from the start and was even voted the club's Defensive Player of the Year by teammates in 2009.
When the 6-foot-3 Jamaican was replaced in the starting lineup in July, Marshall refused to change his approach. Instead of moping, he took his frustrations to the practice field.
"You work hard every day because you don't know when you're number is going to be called again," Marshall said Tuesday at the Starfire Sports Complex with sweat drips cascading down his face. "Yeah, the team went on a good run and it was tough finding a spot back in the lineup, but in the week of training you have to prepare like you're starting."
His return to that familiar role could come Sunday, in the biggest game of the season, no less. With starting defender Jeff Parke's status uncertain due to a sprained ankle, Marshall is standing by if called upon for Sounders FC's second leg in the Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"I'll be ready to go, because it's do or die," said Marshall, whose team lost 1-0 to L.A. in the first leg Sunday. "If you lose you go home. If you win, you go on. And I think everyone is thinking the same thing: We want to go all the way."
Marshall started 25 games in 2009 and started 14 of the team's first 15 games this season. With Seattle foundering in the league standings at the season's midway point, the 35-year-old was a casualty in coach Sigi Schmid's roster shake-up and has made only six substitute appearances in league games since then.
Sounders FC's participation in several competitions allowed Marshall to get plenty of game action, however. He played all 90 minutes in Sounders FC's U.S. Open Cup semifinal win against Chivas USA and started seven of Seattle's eight CONCACAF Champions League games.
"He's a good pro. He's been around this league for a long time," said Schmid of Marshall. "He and I have been together for a good amount of time as well. He's ready to go and we're completely confident in his ability to step in and play."
Whether his future lies in Seattle is another question. But Marshall said he doesn't want to go anywhere.
"I think this organization is great — everything's good," he said. "My family loves it here. So we'll see at the end of the year what the situation is looking forward. For sure, I'd love to be here. If not, we'll deal with that if it comes."
• Midfielder Steve Zakuani said Tuesday he has decided which national team he'll play for, but refused to name the country with a wry smile on his face. The 22-year-old has citizenship with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was born, and England, where he was raised. He's expected to receive his green card soon, which would begin the process of earning U.S. citizenship as well. Asked when his decision will be made known, Zakuani quipped, "When I play."
• Sounders academy product Sean Okoli, a senior at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, was named U.S. Soccer Development Academy U17/18 Performer of the Week after recording two goals and an assist in road wins over the L.A. Galaxy and Chivas academy teams.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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