When we talk about Rafa Marquez – and we haven’t quite talked about Rafa Marquez enough yet, have we? – a tendency may arise to toss ol’ Rafa atop the “Failed DP” heap.
I don’t see it that way.
He wasn’t a failed DP the way Denilson (FC Dallas) or Mista (Toronto) or Marcelo Gallardo (D.C. United) were. Those guys were paid lots of money but yielded precious little production. They were total talent busts. At root, they represented scouting failures, or signings for the wrong reasons (more about the splash and dash) or reaches born of desperation.
Marquez was talented, hardly past his prime and still equipped with sufficient skill and enough tread on the tires to add something on the field.
Marquez’s issues during his time of turbulence was all about high jinx and silliness. He was never guilty of “shooting yourself with your own gun in a nightclub” kind of stuff. Nor did Marquez’s naughtiness drift into darker areas that we see with pro athletes, domestic abuse or doping and such.
His problem was never being “all in” for the club. And $4.6 million in annual salary really should buy you an “all in” guy in MLS. (League deciders, please do take note of that for future references.)
Marquez undercut the Red Bulls’ larger ambition with totally unnecessary and selfish nincompoopery. Who could forget the absolutely disgraceful, disrespectful incident following a 2011 playoff contest against Los Angles? Marquez threw a ball at Landon Donovan, tried to start a fight and then flopped to the ground in a badly acted gambit that fooled absolutely no one.
It was an unholy trinity of destructive tomfoolery; Indignation and a deserved suspension ensued.
Nick Firchau summed it all up nicely in this piece:
The biggest problem with Márquez was that any individual moments of brilliance on the field were overshadowed by his periodic willingness to undercut his teammates, incite a childish physical altercation on the field and effectively undermine what the league has tried to build for 17 years.
So, no, I wouldn’t add Marquez’s name to the list of fabulously failed DPs – not in the way we typically describe these fallen figures.
Still, the place where DPs and failure collide is always a topic worth exploring; it’s the whole train wreck thing, how we can’t help but watch one.
So Graham Parker looks at the level of failure in Marquez’s days and nights of tumult around Red Bull Arena.