DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Columbus Crew standout Chad Marshall is currently trialing with 2nd Bundesliga leaders Mainz 05 with a contract offer potentially coming by the end of the week.
After a strong MLS campaign in 2008 which saw him win recognition as the league's top defender and scoring the MLS Cup game-winning goal, Marshall has attracted the attention of several clubs in Europe.
"We are looking for a central defender and there was a possibility to test him," Mainz press officer Tobias Sparwasser told YA. "It's not easy at this time of the year to get test matches to see a player."
"Chad said 'Yes, no problem, I can come and can play,' and he will be in training here until Thursday."
The 6'3" anchor of the Crew defense would be a fitting addition to the current 2nd Bundesliga front-runners, helping to fill in an otherwise thin back line.
"Our team has two [central defenders] which are always in the first team - Nikolce Noveski who is a national player for Macedonia and Nico Bungert who is a player for the U21 national team of Germany," Sparwasser explained. "Behind them there's no traditional [central] defender."
"We've got a young U19 national player and Roman Neustädter, who is only 20 years old. So there are talents but they are not professionals for so many years."
Despite just touching down in Germany, Marshall has already had the chance to play in front of his potential coaches, going the distance in a scrimmage against the Regionalliga Süd's SV Darmstadt 98.
"We had a test game yesterday evening, he played 90 minutes and our coach could see him in a match."
Sparwasser declined to comment about the game, staying that the team does not make official statements about visiting players.
Marshall's contract with MLS is up at the end of the year, meaning that he would be a free transfer for whoever inks his signature - a fact that has not gone unnoticed by Mainz.
"There is no transfer fee so maybe he could be cheaper than other players from Germany which have contracts," Sparwasser remarked.
With German teams entering their winter break following the upcoming weekend's games, a contract offer could come in the next few days for Marshall.
"He will be in training this week, so after this week we have to tell him something," Sparwasser admitted. "Not today, not tomorrow, but maybe at the end of the week we can say something."
Mainz, the former home of Americans Conor Casey, Grover Gibson and Neven Subotic, currently lead the 2 Bundesliga by a single point over SC Freiburg and are among the favorites this season for promotion to the top tier.