PHOENIX – New York Red Bulls defender and Mexican national team captain Rafa Márquez hit on a slew of topics during a Tuesday press conference at Grand Canyon University Stadium.
As expected, a sizable contingent of Spanish-language media made Márquez the star during a press conference that also featured Red Bulls coach Hans Backe and fellow superstar Thierry Henry.
Olympics? 2014 World Cup? Going back to Mexico? Márquez had answers for all of them.
"I would love to participate in the Olympic team for Mexico, but it's hard to get on [the roster] because of all the young players," he said through an interpreter. "I'm happy to go back with any Mexican national team."
If Mexico do qualify in April for the Olympics, and Márquez does get selected to be one of three overage players to join the Mexican U-23 Olympic team, he could miss as many as four league games for the Red Bulls. The London Olympics men's soccer tournament begins July 26, with the gold medal match on Aug. 11.
Márquez, who turned 33 last month, was also asked his thoughts about playing for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He has captained his national side since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and logged his 100th cap in a friendly vs. Venezuela last March. But Márquez, who has 106 caps in total, will be 35 at the next World Cup.
"If I can play and get selected in the next World Cup, I would like to play," he said. "But if I can't, then I'll think about retirement from professional soccer."
Márquez surprised many when he signed a multi-year contract with MLS in 2010 from FC Barcelona, spurning the Mexican Primera División. But he hasn't ruled out going back to play professionally in his native country and his first pro club, Atlas.
"I want to keep in my best shape and yes, I would like to go back and play on the team I started playing for," he said.
The Red Bulls are preparing for three preseason matches this week, including two tilts in the four-team Desert Diamond Cup at Kino Veteran Memorial Stadium in Tucson. They’ll also play a friendly against Mexican top-flight side Pumas UNAM, the 2011 Clasura champions, at Chase Field in Phoenix on Thursday.
The Red Bulls played a short 11-vs.-11 intrasquad scrimmage during Tuesday's practice at Grand Canyon University. The first team played a 4-4-2 formation with (from left) Henry and Kenny Cooper at forward; Joel Lindpere, Dax McCarty, Márquez and Dane Richards at midfield; Roy Miller, Stephen Keel, Markus Holgersson and Jan Gunnar Solli at defense; and rookie Ryan Meara at goalkeeper.
To help fill Chase Field for Thursday's Red Bulls vs. Pumas match, event officials are offering buy one, get one free tickets. The offer is only available for tickets purchased Wednesday at the Chase Field Box Office and through Ticketmaster. All tickets and sections qualify.