By Mark Vincent Lincir
The free-wheeling, hard-charging days of Major League Soccer are finally here! The Red Bulls are paving the way for MLS to get fun again. With their signing today of Mexican international Rafa Marquez (photo), the Red Bulls become the only team in Major League Soccer to have three designated players.
And with Henry, Angel and Marquez being their new triple threat, the rest of the league will have to step up or be left in the Red Bulls’ wake.
Last season you couldn’t pay me enough to watch the Red Bulls play in the Meadowlands…now, I actually look forward to watching them every weekend! No, I haven’t gone crazy, I just love that they built their own stadium (which looks great on television by the way)…went and got Henry and now Marquez and will surely continue to spend money to make their club the biggest and baddest in the land.
That’s what we all want, right? We want club to step in and put its stamp on Major League Soccer and declare this league their league. D.C. United did it in the early days, but without their own stadium and the exposure the league has now. And am I jumping the gun a bit with the Red Bulls, I mean, they haven’t won anything.
They will continue to pull top quality European talent and New York’s proximity to Europe as opposed to the west coast does give them an unfair advantage. The signing of Marquez is interesting though. He will most likely play in the center of midfield and I just don’t see him being the playmaker that the Red Bulls desperately need.
I think we’ll be seeing the old square peg…round whole situation with him now. I love the signing of Henry and have always rated Angel very highly, but Marquez I think was overrated as a center back and will struggle to link to his strikers as a center mid. I think a more effective signing would have been to bring in American playmaker Benny Feilhaber. It may not have been as glamorous, but Benny would be more productive than Rafa in the center of the park.
Marketing-wise it’s brilliant. He’ll draw from the many rabid followers of the Mexican national team in the USA and also from Barca fans. How good will he be in MLS? I think his role will be muddled and he won’t be as effective as he should be, but nobody will care, because he’ll help put butts in the seats and will add some bite in the midfield.
Will the Red Bulls win MLS Cup? They might! They should definitely compete for it. But what I love most about the Red Bulls is that they are making moves. They are spending money. They are going big. They aren’t just talking about tomorrow, they are doing it today. Stop insulting fans by making them wait until tomorrow to enjoy. Get it done today and they will come back tomorrow…and the next day and the next day.
The Red Bulls are doing a lot of things right…we’ll see if all these moves translate to some trophies. But if nothing else, they have directed a lot of peoples’ eyes onto their club now. That is something that was NOT happening (at least for the right reasons) before this season.