In a scene we picture going a little like this…
…New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe suspended designated player Rafa Marquez for Saturday’s crucial game against Portland.
The move comes in the wake of the player’s locker-room-poisoning comments after Wednesday’s embarrassing 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.
We like it, and not only from a team-morale perspective. Clearly, there had to be some response to the unprofessional and uncalled-for comments, and Marquez, as we’ve said before, has not played close to his best this season, so it’s debatable whether he’ll be missed on Saturday, especially given his current mindset.
Further, the Red Bulls’ victory over Dallas last week—their first win since July 6—came without the Mexican designated player in the lineup and featured a staunch defensive effort by the backline that Marquez infamously claimed was not up to his level.
So the plot thickens for what was already a slam-bang slate of weekend MLS action: In addition to the As the World Turns doings in New York, there’s a battle for first in the East tonight between Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia, a Texas derby match on Saturday, and a Cascadia Cup game that will also be the last match at Empire Field before the Whitecaps move to the revamped BC Place.
Other key games include a showdown between conference leaders Columbus and Los Angeles, and a matchup between red-hot Real Salt Lake and playoff hopefuls DC United.
Come Sunday evening, the playoff picture should be in much sharper focus—along with the futures of more than one Red Bull New York employee.