Marshall on the mend in Columbus

Defender of the Year eyes April 10 return against FCD

COLUMBUS, Ohio — 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.”