Tyrone Marshall wears the smile of a content man. Spend a few minutes talking to him and you immediately learn why.
Following a recent workout at the Seattle Sounders’ Tukwila training facility, Marshall spent some time talking about his career. He promptly revealed the basis for his happiness.
“From the time I was a very young boy I wanted to be a soccer player,” Marshall said. “I got my dream fulfilled by getting to make my living playing the game I love.”
Marshall was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved with his family to Fort Lauderdale at the age of 14. He still retains some of his Jamaican accent along with certain customs, as evidenced by delivering the nation’s customary greeting of, “Hey, mon!”
Soccer was a byproduct of Marshall’s genes, which explains at least in part why he was kicking a soccer ball around by the age of four. Marshall’s father, bearing the distinguished British first name of Cornell, had a distinguished career in the sport.
“My father began by playing semi-pro soccer,” Marshall said, “And finally he became a member of the Jamaican National Team.”
The link to the Jamaican National Team is one in which son would ultimately follow father.
The younger Marshall’s natural talent for the sport found him in youth soccer in Fort Lauderdale and later at Boyd Anderson High School at Lauderdale Lakes. He played a variety of positions. One of them would be his ultimate career destiny.
“I was able to score goals so I became a striker and also played at midfield,” Marshall said. “Because defense was naturally important I would be put on the back line. Eventually that would be where I would play in professional soccer as a central defender.”
After graduating from high school Marshall moved on to Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky. He earned All-American honors his first two seasons there and led the Blue Raiders to their first NAIA Championship while scoring 47 goals.
Marshall’s career with the Blue Raiders helped initiate a dynasty which has been extended to eight NAIA titles. Despite his magnificent success, he felt it was time to move elsewhere.
“I felt like I accomplished everything I could possibly achieve at Lindsey Wilson College in those two seasons,” he related. “When I moved on from there it involved coming back home.”
The next stop on Marshall’s successful itinerary was Florida International University in Miami. He performed there during his junior and senior seasons in 1996 and 1997.
From there it was on to the professionals and the realization of his boyhood dream of playing professional soccer. He was drafted by the Colorado Rapids, but after one game was dealt along with Jason Boyce to the Miami Fusion on August 14, 1998 in exchange for David Vaudreuil.
“We played a 3-5-2,” Marshall said. “I played forward and then moved to midfield and from there to defense.”
To that point Marshall spent a large part of his soccer career at various levels of competition in his hometown Miami area. That would change after the Miami franchise folded. He was picked up by the Los Angeles Galaxy and a highly productive phase of his career emerged.
“The Los Angeles period was a big part of my life,” Marshall smiled. “Three of my children were born in that period and then there was what we accomplished with the Galaxy: two MLS Cups.”
Tyrone was with the Galaxy from 2002 until his trade to Toronto in 2007. His stalwart defending helped propel the Galaxy to MLS Cups in 2002 and 2005. In 2005, L.A. also won the US Open Cup.
The defender had a good deal to be delighted about in his Galaxy playing experience. In 2003 Marshall was named to the MLS All-Star team for the first time in his career. In 2005 he started all 25 regular season matches, collecting a goal and two assists, and earning honors as the club’s defender of the year as well as another spot on the MLS All-Star squad.
The 2006 season saw Marshall’s nifty defensive work contribute to an impressive record. He started all 25 games and played a key role in the Galaxy’s franchise record 521 minute shutout streak.
In 2007 Marshall was traded to Toronto FC. After spending 2008 with Toronto he was traded in exchange for allocation money to Seattle on February 10, 2009.
The 2009 season turned out to be highly productive. Marshall started 25 of 26 regular season appearances and played the full 90 minutes in 22 contests. He was voted by teammates as the Sounders’ Defensive Player of the Year.
Along with a fulfilling Major League Soccer career including championship cups won and two All-Star selections, Marshall completed a tandem with his father Cornell in playing for the Jamaica National Team. He was selected in 2001 and remains a member today.
“I will never forget my first match,” Marshall said. “I can still remember the date of May 17 because it holds such great significance. We played to a 0-0 draw against Romania as part of a national tour.”
A meeting with Mexico in Mexico City was another match that stands out in Marshall’s mind. Estadio Azteca or Aztec Stadium holds great significance in international soccer history.
It was the venue for the 1968 Olympics and is the only stadium to host two FIFA World Cup finals matches in 1970 and 1986. Its capacity of 105,000 establishes it as the largest stadium in Latin America and fifth largest in the world.
“There was a huge crowd of some 98,000 people at Aztec Stadium when I played there,” Marshall revealed. “What I took away from there and can never forget is how intimidating a place it is to play. They don’t boo you but they do something else. They make this loud buzzing sound. It sounds like it is coming from a huge number of bees.
By talking about it I can hear it all over again. We lost 3-0 that day, which was an improvement over the 5-0 and 6-0 losses Jamaican teams sustained there before. So we managed to improve on our previous efforts.”
The veteran defender has fond memories of a trip he took with his Jamaican teammates to England in 2003. Jamaica faced Brazil. “I will always remember that because of the great players we played against,” Marshall said. “This was a period when Kaka and some of their other stars were just beginning to develop into great players.”
In assessing the present and the future, Marshall remains the glowing optimist.
As for the future of Major League Soccer, Marshall said, “At one time this was a league where veteran players came to finish their careers. Now we are seeing all this younger talent come into the MLS. I think this league has a very promising future.”
As for his current Seattle career phase, Marshall said, “I have really enjoyed my stay in Seattle and I hope to finish my career here. The Sounders have such great fans. We hope we can raise some more cups such as last year when we won the U.S. Open Cup. Playing here is such an exciting challenge.”