Soca Warriors Online (SWO) caught up with new Austin Aztex star-man Yohance Marshall, who expressed nothing but love for his beloved country.
Yohance left his sunny home in the Caribbean and never looked back as far as his career goes. He made his parents Wade Marshall and Nzingha Salandy proud when he served as captain of his newly found team University of South Florida (USF) in 2006.
Rated one of the top defenders in three years for USF, Yohance played a major part of the Bulls’ nine shutouts in 2007. He is also a member of the 2005 BIG East Championship team and started in all 50 games with five goals and one assist.
His college career was so successful that he sparked interest from some MLS teams and was quickly invited to the 2009 adidas MLS Player Combine where LA Galaxy came knocking.
In Trinidad though, Yohance played with some of T&T's finest players (some whom are currently on the Trinidad and Tobago senior football team) such as; Kevon Neaves, Richard Roy, Javed Mohammed, Hayden Tinto, Ataullah Guerra, Shane Calderon and Shastri Spencer to name a few.
The highly rated Diego Martin born defender has led his secondary school team St. Anthony’s College to three intercollegiate championships while captaining them in 2004. He was one of the 2004 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) top five Players of the Year and was also on the 2004 SSFL All Star Team. Yohance is now eagerly hoping to follow some of his former colleagues by joining the T&T ranks if the opportunity arises.
Though still contracted by the Los Angeles Galaxy, Marshall is on loan to Austin Aztex and is currently enjoying every minute of it.
Read more on what he had to say.
Flex - You represented Trinidad and Tobago at the U-17, U-20 and U-21 levels. You had tremendous success with St. Anthony’s College and University of South Florida. In February 2009 you were picked up by the Los Angeles Galaxy and eventually made your official debut for them on April 7, 2009 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against Colorado Rapids. You spent almost a season at the Club, but never once ran out in an actual league game. Do you feel you made a mistake by joining LA, or maybe you weren't given the opportunity to prove your worth?
YM: No I don't think I made a mistake by joining them. I think coming out of college everyone wants to play and I believed that I could have done so, but I wasn't ready. I had to get better and improve my game by playing a lot quicker and there was not a better place to learn from some of the better players in the MLS. I was on the 18-man squad for a great deal of the games last year when I was healthy and I think that even though I didn't play I was improving my game. I was being rewarded by being on the squad in front of a lot of other players.
Flex - Now that you are on loan to Austin Aztex and playing regularly, do you feel your chances have improved in staking a claim on the Galaxy's side? Do they still keeps tabs on you or do you feel your move might become permanent?
YM: Yes they do, every few weeks or so I might get a call to see how I'm doing and if I needed anything. For right now I am just trying to get better and help whichever team I'm playing with.
Flex - Do you feel you didn't do yourself any favors by going to a USSF Division 2 Professional team on loan, in others words, couldn't you have tried another MLS team instead where the competition is much stiffer?
YM: This league is actually more competitive than some people think. The team that knocked LA out of the CONCACAF champions league (Puerto Rico Islanders) plays in USSF Division 2. The MLS is more known and more televised, but there are some good players in this league, so I didn't think I made a bad decision.
Flex - At Austin Aztex you've managed to score two goals so far this season. What position do you play now?
YM: It's three actually (ha ha)..... but I'm still playing centre back. I've been at the right place on some set pieces and was fortunate enough to put them away.
Flex - Obviously you rubbed shoulders with David Beckham and our very own Christopher Birchall during your time in LA. How was this experience?
YM: It's great and always a learning experience. It's amazing to see the level of commitment they both have and their work rate as well. You won't believe how much extra work they put in on a daily basis. It gives you that extra motivation to push yourself and it also makes you think about some of the best players in the world and what they might be doing.
Flex - At LA, you once said that you are thankful to Jamaica's Tyrone Marshall because he has helped you improved your game. Was he the only player you really looked up to or did others spend time helping you as well?
YM: He wasn't the only player I looked at trying to improve my game. At LA, Tony Sanneh and Greg Berhalter shed some light on some things I could work on as well. Julius James was a big influence when I just started playing for the intercol team with St. Anthony's College in Trinidad and obviously I still look at players like Lucio.
Flex - Have the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) been in contact with you in order to track your progress?
YM: No, I haven't heard from the TTFF since my junior year of college when I was selected for the Digicel Cup but couldn't stay for the tournament because of school obligations.
Flex - If you were given the chance to return to T&T and play for a local club team will you consider it? If yes, which local team do you like?
YM: I don't have a preference for any one team in Trinidad or Tobago, but once the circumstances are right of course it will be something to think about.
Flex - Who were some of the best players you've played with and against?
YM: Well last year LA played against AC Milan and Barcelona while I was their and the first person that truly impressed me was Seedorf. His passes and vision was just unbelievable. Of course there was Ronaldinho, Messi, Xavi and also Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Eddie Lewis and Donavon Ricketts are some from LA Galaxy.
Flex - Who are your favorite T&T players? Why are they your favorite?
YM: My favorite T&T players to watch were Russell Latapy and Aurtis Whitley. Whitley was a player I admired even before the World Cup, because of his tackling and passes. Latapy was just a player with great vision who read the game tremendously.
Flex - During your college career in the US, who were some of the T&T players you felt stood out in the college league?
YM: Some players that stood out while I played in college were Julius James, Steve Sealy Jr, Osei Telesford, Darryl Roberts, Scott Sealy, Kevon Neaves and Sherron Manswell. Those are some players off the top of my head that I could remember made an impact in some way.
Flex - As there are so many T&T players who get lost in the US system, do you feel players who leave T&T to take up scholarships in the US hamper their international career?
YM: Well you have to look at it objectively with each person. Some people want to further their education firstly and football comes second. Not everyone wants to be a footballer, but others use it as a stepping stone for something different. So, for the players who want to continue playing football it didn't make that much of a difference. We see players who attended college that represented T&T at the international level such as :- Stern John, Avery John, Brent Sancho, Darryl Roberts, Leslie Fitzpatrick, Shaka Hislop and list could goes on, so I don't think so.
Flex - What was your proudest moment?
YM: My proudest moment was being able to cross the stage at my graduation with my parents and other family members being there.
Flex - If given a T&T call up what can we expect from Yohance?
YM: (smile on my face) hmmm.. I will help to improve the team in any capacity that I could. I will play in any position or role the coaching staff might need me to play and just soak up all the information I could to help me further understand the game at the international level. It will be a great honor to play for my country again.
Flex - Do you feel you have what it takes to fill the vacancy left by Marvin Andrews and Dennis Lawrence on the T&T team?
YM: Those guys have been there for years and have miles of experience playing for our country so it won't be that easy to fill the void, but yes hopefully one day, I think once I continue improving my game one day I could wear the Red White and Black once again.
Flex - What are your thoughts on T&T's performance at the 2006 World Cup in Germany?
YM: (Smile again) I was lucky enough to witness all 3 games in Germany and it's something I'll never forget. I thought we performed well and I was extremely proud of the team. We had a structure and we followed it, defensively as a team we were good, but we didn't have much going forward. Nonetheless, I was jumping up in my seat the same way with every opportunity we had. lol
Flex - Can you see T&T qualifying for another World Cup? If yes, what changes do you feel need to be made?
YM: Yes I think we could qualify for another World Cup, but we need some kind of structure. We need proper youth programs where players know each other and are familiar with one another's tendencies. We also need to keep moving our core players up the different age groups and even mixing them with the senior team. We need to teach players the basics at a young age, passing, controlling and not just dribbling. We are now starting to mix the young players in to get that experience, while we should have been doing that a long time ago. But this is not just going to happen over night as much as people want to see it happening now. It's a process.
Flex - How hard was it to settle in the US and do you miss T&T?
YM: It was challenging when I first came to the United States for a number of reasons. I started school in January and even though it was Florida it was really cold, probably in the 20's and 30's (Fahrenheit) compared to Trinidad which is usually in the 80's and 90's. People could not understand me when I spoke and it was difficult to repeat myself everytime I talked to someone. It started to get annoying. The food was different, it wasn't as seasoned as home. But that was all probably the culture shock and after a couple of months it became a lot easier. Yes I miss home all the time! Almost all my family and a lot of friends are home and it seems like I miss what's going on in their lives but Skype helps. (ha ha ha).
Flex - Were you disappointed in the Galaxy's failure to progress into the CONCACAF Champions Cup? Now that they are out who will you be rooting for? There's Joe Public.....
YM: Yes I was a little disappointed because I'm still part of the team and I know the players there. Regardless of LA, I always back a Trinidadian team whenever they play a foreign team. It's as though they're representing all Trinbagonians and you always want to see your fellow countrymen perform well. So Joe Public has a task ahead of them, but hopefully they will catch back that form from last year and get better results in the last few games.
Flex - Will you be available to represent T&T at the 2010 Caribbean Cup in November?
YM: I can't tell the future, but once I'm healthy and everything is organized properly of course I'm available.
Flex - Have you ever visited the Soca Warriors Online (www.socawarriors.net) and the Warrior Nation websites (www.thewarriornation.com) ? If yes, what are your thoughts?
YM: Yes I visit the sight almost everyday to see what's new with Trinidad footballers around the world. I think that the site is very informative and tries to keep up with a lot of Trinidad's talent around the world.
Flex - Do you have any words for the Soca Warriors supporters out there?
YM: I could do with some Sunday food right now.. lol...
Note: Special thanks to Soca Warrors Online and Warrior Nation member Anthony "FireBrand" Valley.