TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) — Three-time MLS defender of the year Chad Marshall announced his retirement due to injury on Wednesday, bringing an end to a 16-year career that included stints with the Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders.

Marshall's last game for Seattle was on May 4 against Minnesota United, after which it became clear the knee was becoming a problem. Marshall had undergone surgery on the knee to repair a meniscus tear he suffered during the MLS Cup playoffs.

"After the Minnesota game, we had rapid degeneration in his knee joint and unfortunately, after some discussion, it was decided that maybe this was the best course of action," said general manager Garth Lagerwey.

The 34-year-old is the only three-time defender of the year in league history, winning the award in 2008, 2009 and 2014. He was named to the MLS Best XI and was an All-Star selection four times. He also won a pair of MLS Cup titles, one in Columbus and one in Seattle.

Marshall spent his first 10 seasons with Columbus before joining Seattle via trade in 2014. He's second all-time in MLS history among field players in regular-season appearances (409), starts (404) and minutes played (35,843).

Marshall also made 12 international appearances with the U.S. national team, his last coming in 2017 after a seven-year absence from the national team pool.

"From heartbreaking losses to MLS Cup wins, own goals to cartwheels, it's been a blast," Marshall said in a statement.

Often seen as stoic on the field, teammates raved about Marshall's personality as a teammate and his ability to crack a joke or lighten the mood at the right time. He was a fan favorite in Seattle.

Marshall informed his teammates of his decision earlier this week.

"It's sad. We joined this club almost at the same time, I think two or three days apart. ... At first hearing that he was going to join I didn't think we were going to be best buds on the team, but he's such a likable guy," goalkeeper Stefan Frei said.

Coach Brian Schmetzer said he was honored to have coached Marshall. "He was a great American center back, a great American defender, arguably one of the best our league has had," Schmetzer said. "I'm obviously biased, but I think he's pretty terrific."

More From 1460 ESPN