Marshall on the mend in Columbus

Defender of the Year eyes April 10 return against FCD

Missing games is tough, but
injured Crew defenders Jed Zayner and Chad Marshall are starting to see the
positives of being sidelined.

The pair was rehabbing leg
injuries Tuesday at the Crew’s training facility in Obetz and discussed their
misfortunes together after sitting out the club’s season-opening win over
Toronto FC last Saturday.

“You never want to be injured, but
of all the times to get injured, get it out of the way at the beginning of the
season,” Zayner said. “We only have two games this month.”

With the Crew’s upcoming bye this
weekend and another bye in April, the necessity for either to rush back isn’t
paramount.

Marshall strained his left
hamstring earlier this month while training with the team in Arizona, but could
be ready for the next match April 10 at FC Dallas.

“They say hamstrings are pretty
temperamental,” said Marshall, who’s never had a serious hamstring injury before.
“The more time I have to get back, the better. If we’re a month into the season
and I miss only two games, it’s not as bad.”

Zayner suffered a partial tear of his right
medial collateral ligament during a preseason game in Arizona and is eyeing the
April 24 home game vs. Real Salt Lake for his return.

But the light early schedule and
a strong bench ease the anxiety for head coach Robert Warzycha, who knows there
are capable replacements that will allow the injured maximum time to heal.

Andy Iro, for example, slid into Marshall’s
center back spot on Saturday and handled the job as the Crew posted a 2-0
shutout win.

 “The best thing would be to have your best 11
on the field,” Warzycha said. “Chad is Defender of the Year, so he should be
playing. On the other side, it’s good to have players who can step up. In
Andy’s case, last week he even scored a goal. That’s good to have.”

Iro, slightly taller than the 6-4
Marshall, went to the friendly skies to head a free kick from Guillermo Barros
Schelotto for the first goal of the season. Afterward, reporters surmised Iro
was doing his best imitation of Marshall.

“That’s not an impression of me,”
Marshall countered. “That’s what he does. He’s worked on his heading game and
crossings and corners. That’s just a testament to the hard work he puts in at
practice. He made a great run and a great finish.”

Despite Iro’s success in his
stead, Marshall’s injury woes have implications beyond the Crew. He was coming
off a left knee sprain at the end of the 2009 season and did not have a
standout camp with the U.S. National Team in January, and the latest injury
further diminishes his chances of being named to the World Cup roster.

“I would have liked to have stayed
healthy at the end of last year going into the January camp and hopefully been
sharper,” he said.

When asked of his World Cup
chances, he replied: “I would probably lean toward the not making (the team).
Given the injuries and stuff it’s something that I guess I’m expecting. You
still hold out hope, but I won’t be too crushed if I’m not selected.”

Last season he won his second
straight MLS Defender of the Year award to match the feat of Chicago’s Carlos
Bocanegra (2002-03) and Robin Fraser (Los Angeles, 1999; Columbus, 2004) as the
only two-time winners.

Can Marshall, at age 26 but in his
seventh season, get the hat trick?

“First and foremost is the team,”
he said. “If the team is doing well, the individual accolades will come.”