New York Red Bulls v DC United - Eastern Conference Semifinals

Exploring the level of DP failure in Rafa Marquez


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.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)