Interview by Brian Jennings
Quick, what MLS player currently ranks 7th in MLS all-time games played, 3rd amongst active MLS players in all-time games played, 1st amongst MLS players in all-time games played by a defender…………..?
Did you guess Pablo Mastroeni, Brian Mullan perhaps, or maybe Drew Moor? None of those are correct. The answer is Tyrone Marshall, who also has 82 caps with the Jamaican “Reggae Boyz” National Team on his resume as well. Marshall has quietly, and sometimes not-so quietly, organized the back four of 5 MLS teams during his 15-year career, including his current second stint with the Rapids.
Marshall is a laid-back guy off the field, always has a smile on his face, always asks how you are and if things are well. He is a stereotypical, “no problem mon”-Jamaican who would just as soon play a pickup game with his old friends in Miami as go up against some of the best strikers in the world.
Amassing 329 regular season games played, plus 25 playoff games, Tyrone Marshall sat down with soccer365.com to discuss his personal drive, his early beginnings as a topnotch striker, and some of the things he’s learned from teammates and coaches over the years.
Soccer365.com-Tyrone, this is your 15th season. What do you still love about playing this game?
Tyrone Marshall- I love the competition-coming out every day and fighting, still feeling like I can contribute to the team. I’m still learning the game from different players because you come from different backgrounds so there’s always something to take from those guys and for them to learn from you. That’s why I enjoy it.
Over the years, quite a few guys I’ve played with and against-big name players like Freddie Ljungberg, in Seattle Laurent Robert, Carlos Valderrama, Alexi Lalas, (Mauricio) Cienfuegos-good professional players just learning from those guys. Seeing how they interact every day, how they do it when they’re done with training and I’ve taken a little bit from those guys. I think that’s why I’ve gotten to the point where I’m at because I don’t take things for granted because you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to be like. You appreciate everything everyday you’re on the field and you make the most of it. Once your legs are gone you’re done. Enjoy the time you do now and run around like you’re a little kid.
365-329 regular season MLS matches, 25 MLS playoff matches, and 82 caps for the Jamaican National Team: It’s not just the matches but week-in-week-out training as well. What are the keys to a career like that?
TM-The key is to stay healthy. I’ve picked up injuries over the years but been able to rebound from it quickly. It’s all about your preparation and off-season is most important as well. Every year in the league I’ve gotten better and used to doing certain workouts in the offseason-strength wise, fitness wise. A lot of times playing with the national team has helped because you’re playing year round so you get that consistency, you don’t really lose that fitness, you don’t really drop off as much. When you come back to preseason you’re sharper and you tend to get less injuries because you’re not doing things you shouldn’t be doing. I’ve had some great fitness coaches over the years that I’ve taken different stuff from in terms of different styles of preparation in using the weights. I do weights in the off-season, heavier weights than the season, because you put more muscle on in preseason. You’re going to lose muscle in preseason, so I try to come in a little bit heavier weight-wise. I come in at 200 and now back to my playing weight at 195.
365-At Florida International University, you were not a defender. What kind of player were you?
TM- At FIU I was a striker. 1995 was our first National Championship and I played 2 seasons there and scored 47 goals. I won All-American, got all the awards I could get, it was crazy. The league (MLS) was just starting up then and they weren’t really looking at the NAIA for players more at NCAA. I transferred in 1996 and we went to the finals of NCAA. My first year I was playing injured for the majority of the season, but I scored on a beautiful bicycle kick in the semi-finals against UNC-Charlotte. I was an energetic type of guy, really wanted to learn, really wanted to succeed, and show people I belong in MLS. I think I got a reality check my first year. Coming out of college I was Elite 16, I was MVP of the Elite game before the draft, I was on cloud 9.
365-What do you remember from you first season in 1998? What did you learn that first year?
TM- You come in and realize that all of these guys can play. Coming here in Colorado, after playing striker in college, now they put you on the wing and you’re adjusting to something you’re not used to. You go to not really playing all the games, and not really dressing out and it’s a learning curve. I sat on the bench and I remember going around the locker room being in the first 18, the next week I was 19 down, then 20 and I’m like, ‘Hey, something’s not right here’. Every day at training you think you’re doing your best, your working hard and it’s not materializing the way you want it. It just peeled away all the different layers you had where you thought you were great and it humbles you and show you that it’s going to take hard work. It don’t matter if you’re good or not because everyone is good here. Where’s that extra going to come from to differentiate you.
The worst part was we were playing in Miami in front of my family and everybody. That week I’m busting my butt playing as hard as I can in training to make sure I make the 18. When the 18 came up, I didn’t make the trip and I was very frustrated. Out of the blue, Tim Hankinson was the coach of the project 40 team at the time and he called up (Colorado Head Coach) Mooch (Myernick) to ask if I could come and play because they were missing some guys. I think that helped my career in pushing it in the right direction because now I’m coming in, I’m starting every game, playing 90 minute, you’re getting game fitness on a regular basis. Now, when I came back the coach said I like how you’re playing and he ended up keeping me back (in Colorado). I ended up starting, we played New England and we won-played center-mid, and that’s where it started. A couple weeks later I got traded to Miami.
I said to myself after the season I’m going to do whatever it takes to get on the field. It doesn’t matter where I’m playing-right back, left back, midfield-wherever it is I’m going to play. That attitude got me to where I’m at now: just wanting to be on the field, going out and giving 100% everywhere I’ve been.
365- Why the move to defense for you?
TM- You get to the pros and maybe they’re looking for someone else to score goals and don’t think you’re the guy to put it into the back of the net on a consistent basis. You just have to adjust and that was my situation. Coaches thought I was going to be out on the wings because I had good speed, but when I was playing center-mid I had good touches, I read the game well, spread the ball out. Playing center-mid I got an opportunity to play, and I understand what the game demands of me at that position so if he wants me there I’m going to do it. One of the things that has helped me over the years is being a striker I can anticipate what you’re going to do as a defender. So, I know what you’re thinking one or two steps ahead of the play because if I was in that position this is what I’d try. That’s helped me defend against some of the better strikers I’ve played against.
365- You were a part of the Reggae Boyz for 10 years, won Caribbean Cups, World Cup qualifiers, what was great about playing for Jamaica?
TM- What was cool was I get to represent my country. Being a second-generation footballer, my dad played for the national team, it was great to go back to Jamaica because I moved away for a while. I came to the States when I was 14. I used to watch the Reggae Boyz and quite a few of the guys I knew cause we played together growing up and I was saying, ‘when am I going to get a chance to play? These guys play, why can’t I play?’ So when I finally got the chance I just grabbed it and run with it and didn’t let it go. I think it was a great stint while I had it.
365- What were some differences between international games and domestically in MLS?
TM- It was a different level as well. It’s a wide-open game. It’s not a lot of preparation in terms of training for a long period of time. A lot of times you come in for 2 weeks and you have to be able to think quick on your feet and try to gel with the guys around you. That helped with your maturity and the processing the game on the whole as well.
If you’re not used to playing in a system together it’s going to be a different transition for you. Looking at it from the outside we have so many guys that are spread out now playing overseas. Guys are trying to get out of the country to make money, as well as to try and get an opportunity to play on the national team because when you play locally you get a tough draw in terms of getting a look. In Jamaica, guys show up to training, guys say you’re the best player so you don’t train as hard. In the professional environment you’ve got to come to work every day and work hard and that will translate as well.
365- What advice do you have for younger players looking to play professionally or even young teammates looking to make a career in MLS?
TM-I try to give advice even when we’re training. I was in this position as well but if you keep working hard the sky’s the limit. When I’m playing defense, I’m talking, ‘maybe your positioning, maybe you should talk some more because when you talk you’re more engaged, you’re seeing the game and bringing people into the game as well as getting into the game’.
My advice is that if you’re going to play pro you’ve got to be dedicated because everyone is at the same level or better. If you’re coming up to play you’ve got to be ready to battle every day. This is a job. Guys are coming out here who have kids have to come out here to work every day. If you’re coming out skylarking then you’re in the wrong place. If you’re coming out and I’m coming out, and we’re playing the same position, and you’re just goofing off every day you’re going to hear about it. This is my livelihood, this is how I put food on my table for my kids and my family. If you’re going to screw it up we’re going to have a big talk afterwards. You just have to give them a reality check. If someone would have given me that from the get-go maybe I would have had a different attitude coming in.
365- Speaking of family, you and your wife are parents of 5 active kids so how many times has she said it’s time to retire-you’re done?
TM- Actually she tells me you need to play 2 more years. She tells me that every year. I’m the boss out here but she’s the boss at home. When things are rough and hard and you have to make that one spring you say, ‘listen it’s for your kids’. They keep me young and keep my on my toes. At the end of the day, they come and watch you and say ‘that’s my dad!’ (Tyrone brings his kids to games and into the locker room after to get them around the environment). My dad used to take me to soccer games when he played. I’ll always remember this play-he kicked a shot from the corner but used the outside of his foot behind and bend it into the goal. I’ll always remember that shot and said, ‘I want to play soccer like my dad’.
365- As far as the Rapids go this season, what does this squad need to get better at in order to succeed?
TM- We’re gaining the identity the coach wants us to have. The quicker we buy into his philosophy and the way he played the better it is for us to be successful. That’s our main thing is we have to buy into his philosophy and we have to adjust quickly. We have the players who can do it. We’ve got quite a few options coming back (from injury) and some good young talent on the team so we have good options. As a guy that’s been around, when we don’t lead we are trying to push guys into that leadership role. Sometime for me to not say something is to see if you would say something, you know what I mean? I’m not going to be here all the time to talk so it’s a process. Throw you in the deep end and see if you can tread. If you can’t I’ll grab you but I’m not always going to be there to grab you so you better start paddling.
Jamaica is in need of a win against the U.S. Get the jersey of the Reggae Boyz.
Neymar's move from Santos to Barcelona is no doubt the biggest summer transfer.
The adidas Nitrocharge is the most talked about new cleat in years. It was released on May 15 and will take your pitch by storm.
Barcelona will wear this new home soccer jersey next season. They also have a new away jersey. Get them both.
The Nike Hypervenom is the latest cleat silo from Nike. It will change your game and is worn by the game's top players.
England will debut their new away jersey against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday. Get in the Gear
The USA will wear their blue away jersey against Jamaica in their World Cup qualifier on Friday night.
Manchester City will try and win back the Premier League title with this new soccer jersey from Nike!
The hoop soccer jersey is classic and cool. The USA hooped jersey is perfect for every fan. Get in the Gear.
Germany is one of the top teams ever and they will play the US on Sunday.