COMMERCE CITY, CO - MAY 26: Tyrone Marshall #34 of the Colorado leaves the field after receiving his second yellow card in the 61st minute against the Montreal Impact at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on May 26, 2012 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated the Montreal Impact 3-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Credit given where credit is due: Tyrone Marshall really wasn't all that bad last season after being picked up by the Colorado Rapids in the re-entry draft. I know I was surprised to see the 36 year old do so well, but for the first 3/4 of the season he performed admirably considering his age and speed. Of course, late in the season the fatigue of playing so many games started to get to him, but that was expected.
Unfortunately, the now 37 year old appears to have lost any of that spark he had last season and his appearances in relief of Marvell Wynne this year have been abysmal. Minus a very good second half of the game against Sporting Kansas City, he has been nothing but a detriment for the team as his defending has often been dirty to make up for his lack of speed and slower reactions. Even Scott Palguta has outplayed Marshall, a sure sign that he's not in that good of a place right now.
Watching the 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rowdies sealed the deal on Marshall's form -- he looked tired and had to hack down NASL players in order to keep up the pace of the game. Not good signs when players in the notably slower NASL are figuring out how to get by you as an MLS veteran.
So what to do? Palguta is not an MLS starter by any stretch of the imagination, being best used as a late 15-20 minute center back sub where he can keep his energy at the full. Until Marvell Wynne comes back and Marshall can get back to the bench himself, what to do? The obvious answer is right there in the Rapids reserve team, Eddie Ababio.
Drafted as a right back/right midfielder originally by Gary Smith, Ababio has been training as a center back under Oscar Pareja since training opened and has reportedly impressed in the position. Ababio has everything that Marshall doesn't -- his attack minded play contributes to great play creation up the pitch, he's fast and he doesn't have the chippy streak that Marshall has shown.
Ababio has now gotten over a full year of MLS training and reserves play under his belt. He has only had one first team appearance, in a CCL match last season against Metapan where he scored a lovely goal, and the best way to get him ready for full prime time is to start getting him match time in the big league. Marshall is old and is running out of juice, it's best to start training his replacement as the bench spark and back up CB as soon as possible. It won't be ruining anything in what has been an up and down season for the Rapids to get the kid in the games, especially with Drew Moor as his partner to clean up mistakes.
Of course, by the time the big international layoff is over, Marvell Wynne should be back and Marshall can get back to his spot on the bench, only to be used as a late defensive sub. Then again, if Ababio can impress in the game against SKC in the Open Cup it might be his chance to break in as the new versatile bench defender for the rest of the year.