Kick Off: What punishment for Red Bulls' Rafa Marquez?

Kick Off: Rafa Marquez, New York Red Bulls

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What should be done with Rafa? That’s the question of the moment.

The controversial New York Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Marquez is in the headlines again for the wrong reasons, after Saturday night’s match with the San Jose Earthquakes. On a 42nd-minute corner kick, he dragged SJ’s Shea Salinas to the ground and kicked him in the face for good measure.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee is reviewing the incident: A league source tells MLSsoccer.com that a decision is pending. Meanwhile, the soccer world is offering up plenty of opinions. The Earthquakes’ Steven Beitashour didn’t mince words about what he thought of Marquez’s actions: “dirty.”

The Bleacher Report argues that Rafa deserves a longer suspension than the three-game ban he served for throwing the ball at LA’s Landon Donovan in the 2011 playoffs. This Yahoo contributor, a self-professed Red Bulls fan, wants the league to “throw the book at him.”

And Eric Gomez from Goal.com takes his critique beyond just MLS, claiming that Marquez’s actions indicate “his competitive fire is gone” and he should be dropped by the Mexican national team.

Former US international Chris Rolfe’s competitive fire was never in question when he was with the Chicago Fire. He left the club after the 2009 season and headed off to Denmark. But now he’s back.

Rolfe wasn’t the only MLS transfer-window deadline deal. The Philadelphia Union, who are struggling to score goals, acquired a 27-year-old German attacker on loan from BSC Hoffenheim who is “a combination guy who is very versatile.”

The Portland Timbers’ connections with the offspring of former Colombian internationals continues to pay dividends. Last  place in the West, the club added another young Colombian striker with what coach John Spencer “tremendous potential.”

One player who, it seems, won’t be joining an MLS team after all is Italian living legend Alessandro Del Piero. This report claims “the most respected person in Italian football” will join Juventus for a friendly in Sydney, Australia on a “farewell tour.”

Chivas USA hope they won’t have to say farewell to goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who has to be an early candidate for league MVP. On Monday, he was named MLS Player of the Week for his performance in the Goats’ win away to Toronto.

Regarding weekly awards, the AT&T Goal of the Week nominees are vying for top honors yet again.

Sporting Kansas City will be going after their seventh straight win on Wednesday when they travel to Vancouver. On the latest edition of the ExtraTime Radio podcast, coach Peter Vermes explained how the club has managed its perfect start

Perfection might be hard to maintain on the two-game trip to the Pacific Northwest, particularly since Sporting KC, against Vancouver, will not have their first choice starting XI for only the second time all season.

Meanwhile, the Whitecaps are hoping center back Martin Bonjour will play a big role in stopping the powerful Sporting attack. It helps that the Argentine is learning how to communicate with his defensive partner Jay DeMerit.

Also on ExtraTime Radio, D.C. United’s Chris Pontius, who came off the bench to score the winner against New England last weekend, showed his competitiveness, admitting he is “pissed off” about not being a regular starter in recent weeks. The curling winning goal against the Revs has a name, by the way.

FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman appears a little irked about one of his young up-and-coming players, telling Ruben Luna he needs to be “a little more productive,” even when playing in reserve matches.

Speaking of FCD, they might take a beef with the US national team’s new jerseys, which were revealed on Monday.

It won’t be a reserve game if English giants Liverpool FC come to play Toronto FC, as reporter Luke Wileman claims will happen in July. That’ll be a lot of Reds at Rogers Centre.

But there won’t be any Magpies in North America this summer. Despite earlier rumors, Newcastle United apparently are not coming to America this summer. And interestingly, it seems they were at one point penciled in for the MLS AT&T All-Star Game.

Forget the pencil. Make sure to circle 2:45 pm ET in pen on your dayplanner so you can catch the UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid (Fox Soccer).

On a sadder note, the post-mortem for passed Livorno player Piermario Morosini showed nothing conclusive about the cause of death. The fans don’t care about the reasons so much, though. They are still mourning their fallen player. Out of respect, the club has retired his number.


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