Chad Marshall didn’t take very long to remind the Sounders what they had been missing with him off the pitch.
Seattle lost two straight matches in his absence, allowing four goals during the losing streak.
Houston probed for an early weakness Sunday night. Barely a minute into the match, a long ball was launched forward toward the Sounders goal. Bulky forwards Will Bruin and Giles Barnes fought for positioning, aiming to deflect the pass toward the other Dynamo attackers flooding forward.
Marshall leapt higher than all of them, emphatically heading the ball clear of danger.
His aerial presence was invaluable during Houston’s five first-half corners, as well, keeping the score even so Seattle could gather itself at halftime.
“He has a lot of experience,” Leo Gonzalez said Monday after training. “He’s doing very good this season. He plays with a lot of experience, he wins the balls in the air.
“He gives confidence to the other players.”
The importance of that last point shouldn’t be discounted.
The Sounders back line has been in a constant churn, especially in recent weeks. Marshall missed those two games after getting into a car accident while returning from a team BBQ with Brad Evans – who himself missed the Los Angeles loss.
DeAndre Yedlin was out of the squad Sunday after spending the weekend overseas ahead of a possible transfer. Gonzalez just returned from injury at left back, and Djimi Traore’s start against Houston was his first league appearance since May.
“I need to give credit to the players around my position,” said Traore of his return. “They worked hard and played well.”
Above all else, Marshall is a player his teammates look to in times of need.
Sunday night, with Seattle riding a two-match losing streak and starting a rusty back line, was definitely one of those.
By the numbers: 19 – The number of fouls committed by the Sounders on Sunday night, two off their season-high (21 v. Vancouver in early July) and more than Houston has committed in a match all season.
In their own words: “I was starting to wonder if I was going to get it. It’s a reflection of a lot of great players who have played for me. It’s great—this can be the year I can get 200 as part of even bigger success I get at the end of the year” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on his 200th career MLS victory.
Up next: Chicago Fire at Sounders at Starfire Sports Complex in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. A live stream will be shown at SoundersFC.com and kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.