HARRISON, N.J. – Perhaps no player is more eagerly awaiting the New York Red Bulls home opener this weekend than Rafa Márquez.
The Mexican international is set to return from a three-game suspension for his involvement in a postgame skirmish with the LA Galaxy in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs. And he’s bent on helping his 0-2 Red Bulls when they host 2-0 Colorado at Red Bull Arena on Sunday (4 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes).
“I’m fine physically and I am very eager to play in this first game and help my team get three points,” Márquez told MLSsoccer.com at Red Bulls Media Day on Thursday afternoon.
WATCH: Henry, Backe on Rafa's return
Forced to watch the first two games of the year rather than participate in them, the RBNY Designated Player has noticed the problems that have led to a pair of road defeats at FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. And he shares the views of fellow DP Thierry Henry, who has expressed his concern with the Red Bulls’ penchant to give teams goals.
“It has been errors that have cost us in these first two games,” said Márquez. “We have to concentrate on not committing these type of errors. We especially need to be organized and sharp in the attack.”
Facing a Colorado side that has added technically gifted players such as midfielder Jaime Castrillón to their strong nucleus, the Red Bulls are in for another tough battle against a foe from the Western Conference.
“Colorado is a team that is very dangerous up top,” said Márquez. “They’ve brought two or three Latino players that bring that aggressiveness and dynamic element to the offense.”
Márquez noted that the Rapids will be without midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, who “puts order in front of the defense.” But despite the veteran’s absence Sunday due to a red-card suspension, Colorado will still be difficult to play.
With Márquez back, Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe will likely pair the Mexican star with Dax McCarty in central midfield, as Teemu Tainio is questionable with an injury and Victor Pálsson had a rough outing in Week 2 at RSL. That should give a boost to a team that has struggled with their buildup play.
“For me, it’s vital,” said Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry. “I’m not having a go at anybody, but it is difficult. We don’t come out well from the back, so hopefully Rafa can be the player that gives the rhythm necessary to win.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.