USF graduate Yohance Marshall helped lead the men’s soccer team to its first Big East championship in school history last season. Now, the Trinidad and Tobago native is trying to make an influence in the major leagues.
Marshall, a standout defense player and captain last year for the Bulls, joined the Los Angeles Galaxy the second week of the preseason after not being selected in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft in January.
While at USF, Marshall started all four years and helped the Bulls keep 12 clean sheets in 23 games. However, the professional game is much different than the college one, he said, and it’s been a tough transition.
“The game is a lot quicker,” he said. “I have to think of my next play before I even get the ball.”
Marshall has had to shift from being nationally and internationally recognized to watching his teammates play from the Galaxy bench.
“I am in a new chapter of my life now,” he said. “Just like at USF, I have to start from the bottom and work my way to the top.”
During his time at USF, Marshall was recognized as NSCAA Second Team All-American, NSCAA First Team All-Regions, College Soccer News First Team All-America, First Team All-Big East and was the Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
“Yohance is directly responsible for getting the program to where it is now, and he was a great leader in good times and bad,” said USF coach George Kiefer. “I am happy that it worked out this way for him, and I am even prouder that he attained his degree early and now can play in L.A. as a college graduate.”
Marshall also represented Trinidad and Tobago at the U-17, U-20 and U-21 level, playing in a number of qualifiers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“I started playing soccer in Trinidad when I was 7 … I played all the time, every chance I could get,” Marshall said. “Until my move to USF, away from my organized soccer teams, we always played in the streets or wherever we could.”
Marshall said the transition to USF was difficult.
“Back home, we are really skillful and play a lot with the ball … American (soccer) is so organized and it’s all about endurance, running and training,” he said.
Despite Marshall’s years away from home, he said he still loves his country and is thankful for the support of family and friends who are “still cheering me on from back home.”
However, Marshall will have to learn to lean on a new support team: his teammates with the Galaxy.
“Even more than a dream come true, this experience in L.A. has been an eye-opener,” Marshall said. “Its a honor to play alongside these guys and learn from what they know … These guys are always looking out for me and always trying to help me … I am always watching them at practice and listening to what corrections they give me, whether its on- or off-the-field advice.”
After only a few months with the Galaxy, Marshall is already dealing with adversity.
Marshall is rehabbing a sprained MCL and severe bone bruising in his knee, and team doctors have removed the excess scar tissue to get him ready for the remainder of the season. He practiced for the first time in five weeks Sunday.
Once he recovers from injuries, Marshall said he plans to take on new activities in his leisure time.
“I have a lot of free time, so I am hoping to take up dance classes,” he said. “I have always been interested in learning the Latin style of dancing.”
As he continues with the Galaxy, Marshall said he hopes to fully recover and help his team at the professional level.
“Right now, I am just trying to get healthy, which will enable me to be an asset to my team,” he said. “But long term, I want to make a name for myself, a name that opponents fear.”