Posted on June 28, 2012
By Kristian R. Dyer
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Based on his solid performance against D.C. United in a 3-2 win on Sunday night, Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez may be turning a corner in what has been a rocky MLS career so far. Marquez put in an outstanding performance at the heart of the New York defense in the win, taking the place of Swedish international Markus Holgersson in the Starting XI.
The Red Bulls might finally be seeing Marquez playing at the level they expected when he was signed two years ago as the club’s fourth ever designated player. The captain of the Mexican National Team has struggled to find his form with the Red Bulls, having been plagued by errors on the field and locker room rows off of it. But against United, Marquez was at his best, something Red Bulls fans haven’t seen much of from the player.
Captain Thierry Henry was puzzled that Marquez’s play didn’t draw much attention on Sunday night.
“Something that people didn’t mention after the game against D.C. [is that] when Rafa plays at the back, it’s another story,” Henry said.
“I know a lot of the guys (media) don’t like him too much, but watch the game.”
Marquez has shuttled between midfield and defense during his time in New York, but he showed on Sunday night why he was valuable to the Red Bulls. Despite the high intensity of the rivalry game against United, Marquez was calm and composed and rarely looked flustered.
He played precise balls out of the backline and came close on a first half set piece that went just a couple yards away from the top corner of the goal.
Coach Hans Backe said that it was “Rafa’s best performance since he arrived.”
On Thursday following training at Montclair State University, Henry was puzzled as to why the media and fans seem to be on Marquez so much. Since being signed in 2010, Marquez has produced one goal and six assists in 40 games with the Red Bulls. He has nine yellow cards.
“Rafa is the boss for me, he’s showed it,” Henry said. “You have to respect it. Things happen on the field sometime, to me, a lot of players. I invite people to watch the game that he played on Sunday. People didn’t talk a lot about it; he calms everyone down at the back. Always when there is chaos, he puts the ball down, passes it on the ground instead of kick it in the stands and give it back to D.C.
“We know he played there because some people were missing but I think people misunderstand Rafa sometimes. He’s a great person, he’s a competitor like I can be sometimes you can go over the edge but he’s a great guy. I hope people understand how valuable he is for us.”
Henry was then asked by BigAppleSoccer.com why Marquez is misunderstood.
“I don’t know, I understand him,” Henry said. “I’m not in the mind of other people, I understand him.”
Marquez did not participate with the team during Thursday’s training, doing conditioning and drills to the side and Backe said that the team is waiting to make a decision on his availability for Saturday in Toronto. Marquez did not speak to the media on Thursday, which is in the past is usually an indicator that he will not be part of the game day squad.
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Photo: Thierry Henry on Rafa Marquez (above) “Something that people didn’t mention after the game against D.C. [is that] when Rafa plays at the back, it’s another story.” Photo courtesy of the Red Bulls
Categories: Mexico, North America
Tags: D.C. United, Hans Backe, Markus Holgersson, New York Red Bulls, Rafa Marquez, Thierry Henry