SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Despite the New York Red Bulls’ 1-0 win against San Jose in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, midfielder Rafa Márquez said his team must take make good use of their home-field advantage in the return leg to look for the win.
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“We must go out and win,” he said. “I don’t think we can spare any efforts. We’re at home and I think the team is playing very well.”
The Mexico captain didn’t spare any efforts himself on Saturday.
In his first 90-minute outing in three games – and fourth overall for the Red Bulls since he joined the team at the beginning of August – Márquez swept in front of the defense while also contributing to the attack from deep in the midfield.
In the fifth minute, he delivered a corner kick that resulted in a Mehdi Ballouchy header towards goal. Had it not been for a great save by San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch, New York would’ve found themselves up early.
Then, in the 11th minute, Márquez initiated another attack that nearly ended successfully. He saw Red Bulls academy product Juan Agudelo out wide and delivered a nice through ball. Agudelo then sent a cross into the box that eventually fell to Joel Lindpere, whose shot was also denied by Busch. (Lindpere later scored the game-winning goal.)
But as the match wore on, Márquez’s contributions waned, especially late in the second half, when he was visibly tired. He conceded as much.
“At the end, I felt a little tired, but that’s normal,” said Márquez, who earlier in the week admitted he still wasn’t at 100 percent. “But I played 90 minutes. That was the idea.”
As New York head home to host San Jose in the second leg of the aggregate-goals series on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2), the Mexico star will hope to get some much needed rest. The Red Bulls will need him to be at his finest if they are to go for the victory and lock up passage to the Eastern Conference final.
“We have a slight lead,” said Márquez. “Now, in New York, we must take advantage of it and try for the win. There isn’t another objective.”
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