Frank Isola: Rafa Marquez continues tradition of throwing cheap shots at American players

The defender may have ended his stint in New York with one of the most pathetic displays in MLS history after taking a dive during a post-match fight that he started.
HARRISON, N.J. -- The final pathetic image of Rafael Marquez in a Red Bulls uniform should be of the Mexican international holding his face and falling to the ground during a theatrical post-match dust up with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Marquez wasn’t touched mind you. He was simply reprising his role of both instigator and coward, an act United States soccer fans and players know all too well.

“Marquez needs to leave,” is what Eric Wynalda, the former U.S. international and current FOX broadcaster wrote via Twitter. “Disgrace. Let’s spend the money on some people. Good people. Not over paid punks who make a mockery of the sport.”

Give Wynalda credit for his brutal honesty and accurate assessment of Marquez. And kudos for summing it up in under 140 characters.

Marquez does need to leave New York. It’s what he obviously wants. It’s what the fans demand and I’m sure some of his Red Bulls teammates, starting with Tim Ream, would gladly chauffeur Marquez to the airport.

This has been a failed experiment and bad marriage all rolled into one. Send him to a team in a market with a large Mexican community, perhaps Dallas, Houston or one of the two Los Angeles clubs. Find him a place where he can flourish and be loved because he’s way past his expiration date in MLS’s biggest market.

Marquez went out with a whimper during the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 1-0 win over the Red Bulls in chilly Harrison on Sunday. When the final whistle blew, Marquez threw the ball at Landon Donovan, which isn’t surprising since Marquez has a history of throwing cheap shots at American players.


In the 2002 World Cup, Marquez received a red card for a deliberate mid-air head butt on Cobi Jones during the final minutes of the United States' 2-0 second-round match. It was a gutless attack.

Seven years later in a World Cup qualifier, Marquez was given a red card when he jumped, studs up, into Tim Howard as the U.S. goalkeeper was catching a high cross.

For his transgression against Donovan, Marquez was given a post-match red card as was the Galaxy’s Juninho for throwing a punch at Stephen Keel. In what can only be described as Synchronized Flopping, both Keel and Marquez dropped to the turf as if sucker punched by Mike Tyson.

Keel had a reason to sell the violation since he was hit. Meanwhile, Marquez went from thug to clown in a matter of seconds since he was hit by nothing other than the reality that he’s no longer an elite player. And, oh yeah, he’s now banned from playing in the second leg of home-and-home playoff series against David Beckham and the Galaxy.

On the one hand you can’t help but say, “What was Rafa thinking?” After all, the match on Thursday is the biggest of the season. But then part of you wonders if Rafa knew exactly what he was doing. Maybe he wanted to end his season and Red Bulls career right then and there.

Crazy? Perhaps. But Marquez has already served a one-game suspension for publicly criticizing his teammates, in particular Ream. In fact, Marquez and Ream can be seen arguing after Mike Magee’s first half goal. Red Bulls supporters turned on Marquez months ago and now it appears as if he’s given up on the team and fans.

The challenge facing New York is a difficult one but not an impossible one. With Thierry Henry, New York has a player capable of scoring two goals and sending the Red Bulls through to the next round.

Marquez nearly scored the tying goal in the second half on Sunday. And in fairness, Marquez had moments when he looked like a star. But in the final moment the great Rafa Marquez suffered a meltdown by throwing the ball at Donovan and throwing himself to the ground.

It was a sad, deplorable and frustrating performance. The Red Bulls, as well as their fans, deserve better.