HARRISON, N.J. – New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe on Tuesday chalked up Rafa Márquez’s flame-up over the weekend to postseason emotions, and added he has no ill will towards the suspended star midfielder.
Márquez picked up a red card for his actions in a melee that broke out following the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 win over the Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday, and will serve a mandatory one-game suspension for the second leg on Thursday at the Home Depot Center.
Galaxy midfielder Juninho was also issued a red card for his involvement, and will serve the one-game suspension. No further discipline has been handed from the league for either player yet.
Márquez initiated the incident when he flung the ball at Galaxy star Landon Donovan immediately after the final whistle, and then had a physical altercation with Galaxy striker Adam Cristman as the incident escalated.
Backe, who was an assistant coach under Sven-Göran Eriksson with the Mexican national team from 2008 to 2009, knows Márquez well and all about his passionate and sometimes temperamental displays on the field.
“In a way it’s difficult, it’s a guy with a lot of experience but also a lot of emotions,” Backe said. “I know he’s very emotional. After the game he threw the ball, I’d say, towards the referee, hitting Donovan’s leg, then I think it was Cristman comes over. After a game like this, with all the emotions, a playoff game, it happens. We’re all different; some guys are more emotional than others. I’m not blaming him.”
Márquez did not address the media following the first leg of the playoff series and declined media requests on Tuesday after training. He has not spoken with the English-speaking media since Sept. 21, when he was suspended by the team following disparaging remarks he made towards teammates after a 3-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake.
Backe cited Dax McCarty, Mehdi Ballouchy and Stéphane Auvray as those in mix to play in place of the suspended Márquez alongside Teemu Tainio in one of the two deep-lying midfield slots in the series finale. Márquez did not travel with the team to Los Angeles, per a team spokesman.
Backe also said Tuesday that striker Luke Rodgers will be available for the second leg against LA, despite battling a knee injury that kept him out of the team's wild card win over FC Dallas last week.