Frank Isola: Rafa Marquez went out as a loser

Goal.com
Frank Isola: Rafa Marquez went out as a loser
.

View photo

Frank Isola: Rafa Marquez went out as a loser

When Rafa Marquez arrived on the shores of Harrison, N.J., and found a new home in Major League Soccer someone should have told the temperamental Mexican defender “you’re not in Barcelona anymore.”

It would have been simple, sound advice to a player who acted surprised and disappointed that Tim Ream wasn’t the American version of Carles Puyol and that Dax McCarty wasn’t on the level of Lionel Messi.

No, Red Bull Arena isn’t Camp Nou. We all know that but I’m quite sure that Rafa never really knew what he was getting himself into. The same can be said of MLS because we all learned quickly that the New York Rafa wasn’t the same as the Barcelona Rafa. So at least we have all found common ground with the one-time world-class player; we were just as disappointed in him as he was in us.

The inevitable was made official last week when the Red Bulls severed ties with Marquez after two-and-a-half wasted seasons so he could go home and sign with Mexican club Leon. Good luck and good riddance.

Rafa’s time in MLS was marked by injury, controversy and anger. The league’s third highest-paid player never seemed or sounded happy and his attitude had a negative impact for a young club with a leadership void. While Thierry Henry embraces the role and is a once-in-a-lifetime designated player, Rafa moped around as if he was being held hostage by a growing league that gave him a big contract to play out the twilight years of his career.

Any opportunity to miss a game or travel to Mexico, Rafa jumped at it. He appeared in just 44 of a possible 73 games with the Red Bulls. Basically, he was on a three-year paid vacation subsidized by MLS.

At least when Marquez didn’t play, he couldn’t cause any harm. On the pitch, he was a plodding, frustrated bully. Last April, Rafa ran San Jose's Shea Salinas into the ground, a dirty tackle that fractured the player’s clavicle. The sportsman in Rafa didn’t stop there. He also kicked the defenseless Salinas in the face. It was a cowardly act.

He once attacked a teammate in the locker room, verbally that is. Marquez reamed out Ream for not being up to his level. On a night when Ream made several poor decisions and could have used words of support and comfort, Rafa chose to pile on.

But what I’ll remember most is Rafa’s performances in the playoffs. If the postseason reveals the true character of a player, we learned an awful lot about Rafa. Last season, he stated a near brawl in the first leg of New York’s semifinal against the LA Galaxy when he threw the ball at Landon Donovan. It was classless.

Follow FRANK ISOLA on Twitter

But nothing tops his behavior in November’s season-ending match against D.C. United when the Red Bulls lost their one-man advantage because Rafa foolishly picked up a second yellow card. I would suggest that Marquez was well aware that his night would end with a second hard challenge which is why he did it.

When Rafa was shown red, he immediately walked off the pitch. His night was done, his season was over and his nightmarish time in MLS had come to a fitting conclusion.

David Beckham ended his run as a two-time champion while Rafa went out as a loser. Again. But give the Red Bulls some credit here. The club saw to it that Rafa Marquez, the aging legend, had quit on them for the final time.

View Comments
  • Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar stolen in sticker heist

    Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar stolen in sticker heist

    Avid World Cup sticker collectors in Rio de Janeiro were given a shock this week when a van carrying hundreds of thousands of Panini stickers was stolen during a delivery. Thieves made off with some 300,000 of the adhesive stickers featuring … More »

    Reuters - 8 minutes ago
  • Blazers return home with a 2-0 advantage

    Blazers return home with a 2-0 advantage

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Houston has a LaMarcus Aldridge problem. … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
  • Phelps wins first race in comeback

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps made an ominous start in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, setting the fastest time in the 100 metres butterfly heats at a USA Swimming Grand Prix meet in suburban Phoenix. Racing … More »

    Reuters - 11 minutes ago
  • NBA playoffs - What to watch for Friday

    NBA playoffs - What to watch for Friday

    Yahoo Sports' Evan Doherty looks ahead to the trio of Game 3s featuring Raptors-Nets, Bulls-Wizards and Rockets-Blazers. … More »

    Yahoo Sports Videos - 15 minutes ago
  • Pineda not only pitcher in majors to try pine tar

    Pineda not only pitcher in majors to try pine tar

    Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda is hardly the first major leaguer to use pine tar to aid his grip. … More »

    AP - Sports - 19 minutes ago
  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Pop legend Paul McCartney is set to return to Candlestick Park to offer a swan song to the San Francisco 49ers' former stadium. … More »

    AP - Sports - 19 minutes ago
  • Red Wings pencil Zetterberg into lineup for Game 4

    Red Wings pencil Zetterberg into lineup for Game 4

    DETROIT (AP) -- Henrik Zetterberg may play for the Detroit Red Wings in a critical Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. … More »

    AP - Sports - 20 minutes ago
  • Kluber, Indians roll past Royals 5-1

    Kluber, Indians roll past Royals 5-1

    Corey Kluber stayed stone-faced, maintaining the same stoic look in the clubhouse that he had for nine innings on the mound. Only when prodded by an Indians teammate did Kluber crack. ''Did you smile after the game?'' pitcher Justin Masterson … More »

    AP - Sports - 22 minutes ago
  • Kosar believes he's off TV for slurred speech

    Kosar believes he's off TV for slurred speech

    Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar believes he has been unfairly sacked as a TV broadcaster. Kosar has been removed as a color commentator for Cleveland's preseason games by the team. The Browns said Wednesday night he was being replaced by … More »

    AP - Sports - 22 minutes ago
  • Trip Tips: Brazil's beachless metropolis is a foodie's paradise

    By Todd Benson SAO PAULO (Reuters) - If your idea of Brazil is beaches and bikinis, São Paulo is not the place to go. But if you're a seasoned traveler who tends to shun traditional tourism hot spots for urban adventures off the beaten trail, then … More »

    Reuters - 25 minutes ago
  • Cabrera, Scherzer lift Tigers by ChiSox

    Cabrera, Scherzer lift Tigers by ChiSox

    There's little doubt that Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters in baseball. Cabrera found infield gaps with a pair of two-out hits to drive in three runs in Detroit's 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. ''I'm just trying to hit the ball … More »

    AP - Sports - 26 minutes ago
  • Armstrong loses arbitration appeal to block case

    A Texas appeals court has rejected Lance Armstrong's attempts to block an arbitration panel from reviewing $12 million in bonuses paid to him by a company that wants its money back, a setback for the cyclist who is fighting multiple legal battles … More »

    AP - Sports - 27 minutes ago
  • NLRB to review Northwestern union ruling

    NLRB to review Northwestern union ruling

    Northwestern University's football players will cast ballots Friday on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes - a potentially landmark vote that will be kept sealed for months and possibly years. The National Labor Relations … More »

    AP - Sports - 34 minutes ago
  • Column: 'There's better ways to conceal it.'

    Column: 'There's better ways to conceal it.'

    The thing that has baseball folks riled up about Michael Pineda isn't that he was trying to cheat. It had to qualify as the grossest violation ever of Rule 8.02(b), which says, ''The pitcher shall not ... have on his person, or in his possession, … More »

    AP - Sports - 34 minutes ago
  • Whisenhunt looks forward to Titans' minicamp

    New Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt looks forward to discovering just how many holes the team filled through free agency. Whisenhunt said Thursday he's eager to see his team and begin an evaluation process that could affect the Titans' draft … More »

    AP - Sports - 34 minutes ago
  • Arizona's Bolsinger gets first MLB win

    Arizona's Bolsinger gets first MLB win

    Pitching only 8 miles from where he grew up, Mike Bolsinger had more nerves than usual when he stepped on the mound at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. In front of about 20 family and friends, some of whom he hadn't seen in a long time after … More »

    AP - Sports - 38 minutes ago
  • Silver expects no CBA opt-out by union

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he has ''no expectation'' that players will opt out of the collective bargaining agreement in 2017, potentially leading to another lockout. … More »

    AP - Sports - 38 minutes ago
  • NASCAR hopes Track Takeover brings fans

    NASCAR hopes Track Takeover brings fans

    They are calling it ''Track Takeover'' at Richmond International Raceway, and track President Dennis Bickmeier hopes allowing fans onto the racing surface a few hours before race time on Saturday night will not only improve their experience at the … More »

    AP - Sports - 40 minutes ago
  • Yankees RHP Pineda suspended 10 games

    Yankees RHP Pineda suspended 10 games

    New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games Thursday after being caught using pine tar. ''I accept it,'' Pineda said before Thursday night's game at Fenway Park. Pineda was ejected in the second inning of Wednesday night's … More »

    AP - Sports - 44 minutes ago
  • Cal Poly baseball team is toast of the West Coast

    Cal Poly has long been known for turning out great engineers and architects. The San Luis Obispo school that produced Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith in the 1970s is enjoying its finest season since joining Division I in 1995. At 35-5, the Mustangs … More »

    AP - Sports - 47 minutes ago
  • Some rules regarding Northwestern union vote

    In the wake of a ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that they qualify as employees under federal law, Northwestern football players are voting Friday on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes. … More »

    AP - Sports - 49 minutes ago
  • The 10-man rotation, starring a very cool time-lapse drawing of LeBron James (Video)

    The 10-man rotation, starring a very cool time-lapse drawing of LeBron James (Video)

    A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. … More »

    Ball Don't Lie - 49 minutes ago
  • Benfica and Sevilla secure Europa League wins

    Benfica and Sevilla secure Europa League wins

    By Toby Davis LONDON (Reuters) - A stunning late goal from Benfica's Lima left Juventus's hopes of reaching a home Europa League final hanging in the balance after a 2-1 first-leg defeat, while Sevilla won 2-0 against Valencia in Thursday's … More »

    Reuters - 49 minutes ago
  • NFL draft's most precarious pick: Jadeveon Clowney

    NFL draft's most precarious pick: Jadeveon Clowney

    If the South Carolina standout doesn’t live up to his potential, it's more than possible the blame will fall on his coaching staff for not fully unlocking his immense talent. They will get the burden of proof, because look at how talented Clowney … More »

    Yahoo Sports - 50 minutes ago
  • Mets hand Cards' Lynn first April loss

    Mets hand Cards' Lynn first April loss

    Daisuke Matsuzaka pinched his eyelids, clenched his teeth and thought back. After 123 starts during seven seasons in Major League Baseball, the 33-year-old right-hander was turned into a reliever by the New York Mets when they brought him up from … More »

    AP - Sports - 51 minutes ago
  • NCAA proposal for governance change

    Highlights from the proposal to change the NCAA's governance structure, which was endorsed Thursday by the NCAA's board of directors. A formal vote is not expected until the board's quarterly meeting in August: - The five biggest football … More »

    AP - Sports - 55 minutes ago
  • New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for 2015 unveiling: alumni

    New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for 2015 unveiling: alumni

    By David DeKok HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach" is set to begin two years after his image was removed from Penn State University because of a … More »

    Reuters - 57 minutes ago
  • George Hincapie offers an unvarnished look at cycling in new memoir

    George Hincapie offers an unvarnished look at cycling in new memoir

    George Hincapie was the "Loyal Lieutenant" who helped Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France titles, only to later provide the key testimony that brought his downfall. Now, Hincapie is talking again about one of the darkest eras in cycling. In a … More »

    The Canadian Press - 57 minutes ago
  • Texas' Kouzmanoff to have back evaluated

    Texas' Kouzmanoff to have back evaluated

    Texas third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was scheduled to be evaluated Friday at home by a back specialist before the Rangers make a roster move to activate Adrian Beltre from the disabled list. Kouzmanoff, who is hitting .362 in 13 games and is the … More »

    AP - Sports - 58 minutes ago
  • Gomez helps spark aggressive Brewers' hot start

    Gomez helps spark aggressive Brewers' hot start

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Brewers' new leadoff hitter can aggravate pitchers by slugging homers or stealing bases. Carlos Gomez is flustering foes, and his energetic approach has helped Milwaukee jump out to the best record in baseball. … More »

    AP - Sports - 59 minutes ago
  • Legalize it! Joe Maddon jokes pine tar should be legal in Colorado and Washington

    Legalize it! Joe Maddon jokes pine tar should be legal in Colorado and Washington

    Rays manager jokingly compares MLB's pine tar problem to marijuana legalization. … More »

    Big League Stew - 1 hour 0 minutes ago
  • Armstrong teammate Hincapie pens stark memoir

    Armstrong teammate Hincapie pens stark memoir

    George Hincapie was the ''Loyal Lieutenant'' who helped Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France titles, only to later provide the key testimony that brought his downfall. Now, Hincapie is talking again about one of the darkest eras in cycling. In … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 1 minute ago
  • Twins get rare road series win vs. Rays

    Twins get rare road series win vs. Rays

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Sam Fuld had enjoyed plenty of success at Tropicana Field. For the Minnesota Twins, big moments in the ballpark had been fleeting. … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 2 minutes ago
  • Colorado PG Dinwiddie entering NBA draft

    Colorado PG Dinwiddie entering NBA draft

    Spencer Dinwiddie expects to be healthy and wealthy by summer's end. The University of Colorado star point guard announced Thursday he's skipping his senior season and will declare for the NBA draft. Dinwiddie said at a news conference in Boulder, … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 7 minutes ago
  • Former Rangers great Jardine dies aged 65

    Former Rangers and Scotland defender Sandy Jardine has died at the age of 65 after battling cancer for 18 months, the Glasgow club said on Thursday. Jardine made almost 800 appearances for Rangers, winning three league titles, and was twice voted … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 7 minutes ago
  • Bills hire Dixon as pro scout

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills have hired Gerald Dixon as a pro scout. … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 10 minutes ago
  • NCAA endorses more power for big schools

    NCAA endorses more power for big schools

    The NCAA's board of directors took the first step toward shifting power to the five largest football conferences on Thursday, endorsing a 57-page plan that calls for giving 65 of the nation's biggest schools more autonomy in how to fund … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 10 minutes ago
  • US ski coach gets 4 months for money laundering

    The head coach of the U.S. Alpine speed team, Andreas Evers, was fired by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association on Thursday, hours after the Austrian was sentenced to four months in prison plus 20 months on probation for money laundering. ''Core … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Sevilla earn two-goal cushion against Valencia

    Sevilla earn two-goal cushion against Valencia

    Stephane MBia and Carlos Bacca were on target for Sevilla as they took a big step towards reaching the Europa League final with a 2-0 victory over Valencia on Thursday. The Andalusian side continued their good form which has seen them win nine of … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 15 minutes ago
  • Henrik Zetterberg a game-time decision for Red Wings in all-important Game 4

    Henrik Zetterberg a game-time decision for Red Wings in all-important Game 4

    The Detroit Red Wings' locker room is bursting with new life. … More »

    Puck Daddy - 1 hour 20 minutes ago