Rafael Márquez Needs To Step It Up This Season

When the Red Bull moved into the Red Bull Arena things were looking good, really good.  The team hired former head coach of F.C. København Hanz Backe, brought in big time players like Thierry Henry, Rafael Márquez and finished the 2010 season first in the east.

And then something happened last year, a hiccup as most fans would probably like to think.  The team chemistry seemed to disappear, Henry looked cranky and Márquez appeared to just be zoning out.  At this rate Red Bull fans will be looking for anything positive going into this season.

With the addition of Kenny Cooper, Henry killing it while on loan at Arsenal and Márquez once again appearing for his national team maybe things are looking up.

Rafael Márquez a player revered in Mexico knows the importance of this year.  “The responsibility is bigger,” he told AzKicksIt in Tucson, Arizona.   “I need to try my best because we have a great team and everyone is expecting Red Bull to make it to the final.”

At times last year Márquez seemed extraordinary disinterested, slow to the ball and unwilling to be a part of the team.  He added to this speculation when he said “I think this is a team game, and unfortunately there isn’t an equal level between my teammates and I.”

When Márquez moved to the Red Bull he was coming from Barcelona one of the best teams in the world.  The level of play in the MLS does not compare to Spain and it appeared Márquez had become frustrated with the lack of talent he had grown accustomed to.

Add this frustration to the player and his rapidly increasing age Márquez clearly had lost a step and isn’t the center back that he once was.  In the third place game in Tucson for the Desert Diamond Cup, Márquez was being used as a defensive mid.  “It doesn’t matter where they want me to play, but I’m going to give 100% to this team to help reach the goal.”

The Red Bull, one of the original teams, has yet to win a trophy and the team has been hoping that the changes made in 2010 could make the team deliver on that elusive prize.

Márquez even added “I learned a lot last year, I know what I have to do.”

It’s all fine and dandy Márquez understands this but will he be a team player?  Will he help out the younger players?  Will he actually care once the season starts?  Too many questions still surround him to think he can change over night.

It’s going to be a telling year for the Red Bull with Olympics coming up this year.  Márquez who is now once again appearing for the Mexican national team could miss even more time if the team qualifies for the Olympics saying “It’s not up to me but up to the coach, I’m willing if I get the call.”

Márquez is getting older and has lost a step but a player of his skill level should still be able to be above most talent in the MLS.  And here’s hoping he does, because for good measure the other night when asked about Barca Marquez said “That’s a great team.  I’m glad I left the doors wide open and I’m ready and willing to play for them.”

Sure you are, just start proving it in the MLS first.

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