After all, this is Rafa Marquez; Mexican National Team captain, Barcelona main-stay, the heart throb and legend of Zamora! Surely his mere presence alone would have the latino masses fighting hand over fist to secure their seats in Harrison to witness his majesty.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way. In just over a year and a half with New York, Marquez has gone through more peaks and valleys than the Andes Mountains. Few players in recent memory have been able to play tug of war with the heart strings of the Red Bull faithful like this man has.
Today, Major League Soccer has announced that the former Mexican captain will serve a three game suspension for his blatant, NFL style tackle on Shea Salinas. An undisclosed fine has been levied upon him as well.
His infractions, both past and present will assure he does not see action for five of the first nine games this season. This is just another chapter in a short Red Bull career that has been marred with problems and disappointments.
Get ready for a ride folks – here is a look at Rafa Marquez’s tenure in New York:
Rafa Marquez signs with New York, shows good form in midfield
Though he had some spotty, uninspired starts, Marquez proved invaluable to the midfield down the stretch. His contributions helped New York clinch a playoff spot.
Marquez had one of his worst showings to date when it counted most.
In the second leg against the San Jose Earthquakes, he looked tired on the pitch, causing a plethora of giveaways, and delivering uninspired service en route to a devastating 3-1 loss. In fairness, many, including Juan Pablo Angel, played out of sorts, especially without Thierry Henry available to lead the way. Nevertheless, Marquez bore much of the blame in failing to establish any rhythm in the middle.
Marquez becomes an anchor on the Red Bull’s backline, securing the defense en route to a dominating start of the season. The Red Bull’s would go on a 4-1-3 run to open the season.
Of course, he does have his share of spotty starts, especially as the club began to flounder, but overall, he asserted himself well. Wary Red Bull fans would begin to question his effort the closer time came to the Gold Cup.
Rafa is called up to Mexico for Gold Cup duties, where he helps lead his country to the Championship.
He was an outstanding and dynamic part of the team, infuriating many in New York. Why does he have such a high work rate on the international stage and not with his club team?
Rafa misses an entire month of action after picking up an injury during the Gold Cup. New York is in the midst of an epic winless streak in the middle of a traditionally poor summer. His return does little to right the ship. He returns to the international stage to play for Mexico in a meaningless friendly against the US, but doesn’t miss time with his club team.
New York would go on to a winless August entering a turbulent September.
Marquez returns from a pair of international call-ups to start the month of September. His first game back against the Whitecaps, he earns another yellow card, triggering an automatic suspension.
Rafa serves his suspension and returns for a home fixture against Salt Lake. After a 3-1 drubbing, he calls out his teammates. Claiming they are not on his or Thierry Henry’s level, he rips the play of his club and even labels his defensive partner Tim Ream’s play as “infantile.”
His outburst earns him a one game team issued suspension, effectively ending a turbulent month of September.
RAFA’S REDEMPTION PT I: Rafa quickly works to redeem himself. In his second start back from team suspension, he issues a memorable feed to Thierry Henry to seal the coffin on an exciting 2-0 victory over the Galaxy. His work rate was improved, but not consistent. Still, he managed to help New York towards results and a playoff spot.
However, Marquez couldn’t help but let his ugly side loose. This time, he ignites a brawl after the Red Bull’s first round playoff match against Los Angeles. The former Mexican captain threw a ball at Landon Donovan’s leg after the final whistle, sparking a bench clearing brawl. If his role in this wasn’t bad enough, he feigned getting punched as the scrum escalated. He received a red card on the spot, ruling him out of the second leg.
Major League Soccer reviews the fracas and extends Marquez’s suspension, bringing the grand total to three matches – effectively eliminating him from the playoffs if New York advances.
RAFA MARQUEZ, REDEMPTION II: After coming off of a 10 day January training stint in Barcelona, the former Mexican Captain returns in good shape to Red Bull camp, quickly becoming a stand-out for the team through their sessions in Mexico, Montclair and Arizona.
Rafa serves out the remaining two matches of his suspension. Upon his return, he plays hero to the winless Red Bulls, helping New York overcome the Colorado Rapids. His play in the midfield helped shore up New York who struggled out the gates to establish a proper rhythm.
The temper returns. Rafa Marquez, for no apparent reason, bear hugs 150 lb. Shea Salinas in the box during a corner kick situation. While the ball is in the air, he body slams the young winger into the ground, breaking his clavicle in four places. On the follow-up, Rafa unleashes a kick towards Salinas’ head for good measure, but only manages to catch his shoulder.
This latest infraction has earned Marquez a three game suspension – the second of its kind in less than six months time. Once again, Rafa’s hi-jinx will put his team in a hole. And if the past is any indicator, it may not be the last time either.
1 – Yellow Card Accum. Suspension
1 – One Game Team Suspension
2 – Three Game League Suspensions
TOTAL: 33 starts, 8 suspensions (or 19% – nearly one suspension every five matches)