HARRISON, N.J. – Rafa Márquez hopes his time with the New York Red Bulls doesn’t end like this.
For the second straight year, his season finished with him being ejected in a playoff game that his team wound up losing. Márquez was sent off with his second yellow card in the 75th minute of the Red Bulls’ 1-0 loss to D.C. United in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday for clipping Chris Pontius from behind.
His ejection was a possible momentum-changer for a New York team that was piling on the pressure on their Atlantic Cup rivals, as it negated their man advantage after goalkeeper Bill Hamid had been given a straight red card for bringing down Kenny Cooper in the penalty area six minutes earlier on a clear scoring opportunity.
“I think the referee always takes the decision,” Márquez told reporters while speaking in English for the first time this season. “Maybe I can say something, but the referee [takes] the decision, so I need to accept.”
Márquez touched on a variety of other topics while speaking to the media, including how bitter a pill it was to swallow to see such a talented Red Bulls fail to live up to expectations for a third straight year.
“It’s very bad,” said Márquez. “I feel sad about that because myself, I don’t think I have a good season. Tonight maybe we do a good performance, we have a lot of chances, but we don’t have this opportunity to score. Like that is soccer. If you don’t have these opportunities, the other team [will] do it.”
When asked if he wanted head coach Hans Backe back next year, Márquez said the decision is not up to him and that he thinks the Swede is a good coach. But the Mexican Designated Player also was not shy about expressing what he thought needs to change in order for the Red Bulls to lift their first MLS Cup, and that is being consistent.
“Maybe in these three years, we don’t have a good, good team,” said Márquez. “It was always different. One game we play well, the other we play bad. We need to try keep maybe that level and I don’t know what’s going to happen next year, but we need to try and stay at the same level.”
The 33-year-old has one more year on his contract with the Red Bulls, and he wants to return. He admitted he wants to go on an offseason loan to try and enter 2013 in better shape than he was in at the start of this injury-plagued year, but he denied the report of him heading for Atlas. Márquez said there has been no contact with the Mexican club as of right now.
Regardless of where he lands, Márquez is hopeful it’s temporary, as he wants to have one more chance at accomplishing something that no other Red Bulls team has done.
“I want to try and be a champion,” said Márquez. “It’s my last year and I want to be a champion here in MLS. We have everything but we need to work. Myself, I start [by trying] to be in good shape.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.