UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls have suspended defender Rafa Márquez for Saturday night's game against Portland (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) based on his comments following Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.
Head coach Hans Backe delivered the news to the media on Friday following a team meeting to discuss the incident and training, but did not comment on the particulars, calling it an "internal" matter.
Márquez lashed out at his teammates after Wednesday's result, which saw the back line break down on all three of RSL’s goals. As a result, the Mexican international will miss Saturday's pivotal match against Portland, the club one point ahead of the Red Bulls in the race for the 10th and final playoff spot.
"I think this is a team game and, unfortunately, there isn't an equal level between my teammates and me," Marquez said through a translator on Wednesday. “I am trying to play at my level [and if] that doesn’t mean that the whole back line can perform at that same level, that’s a problem.”
Second-year defender Tim Ream seemed to be the target of Márquez’s rant. It was a soft back pass from Ream that was picked off by Fabián Espíndola for the game’s second goal. That was followed several minutes later by the entire defense getting caught flat-footed by a beautiful through ball to assist Espíndola’s second goal of the game. Ream had a meeting with Márquez to discuss the comments and said that there are no issues between the two.
“I don’t really have anything to say about it,” Ream said. “What was said was said. We’ve discussed it, we’re putting it behind us. ... In the heat of the moment, things get said and that’s the way the game goes."
Team captain Thierry Henry added that the team must move and focus on the crucial Portland match or risk alienating a key player as the team fights to stay alive in the playoff race.
“The most important thing for us to do is focus on Portland,” Henry said. “That’s one of the things you don’t want to see in a team – one of your teammates being left out. The boss took a decision and that’s the way it is. For myself as I said to you after the game, I feel badly for Rafa.”
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.