After a tense and tightly contested first leg at Red Bull Arena between the two super powers of Major League Soccer, I can say without a doubt it was the most entertaining match that I have seen since the regular season of 2007 when David Beckham and Juan Pablo Angel had the nine goal barrage at Giants Stadium.
But as always the end of this fantastic match was taken down a dark road when Rafa Marquez in anger grabbed the match ball and threw it at Landon Donovan after Alex Prus ended the first leg. I saw it all in front of me and was amazed that Marquez took his frustrations out at the wrong time.
No matter how many rival matches he was involved with in Barcelona versus Real Madrid or playing for his country in Mexico versus USA, there are some things you don’t do regardless of how world class you are and sadly we as American soccer fans have seen many by the captain of Mexico.
We remember the round sixteen match-up in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea as the USA was leading two goals to nil, then out of nowhere Marquez went to challenge a ball and he rammed his head intentionally at Cobi Jones and got sent off.
The other incident was qualifying for the 2010 World Cup at Crew Stadium in early 2009 when he tried to get an equalizer past Tim Howard, but on the replay you saw him give the American keeper a karate kick to his left leg and was sent off.
His recent incident calling out Tim Ream to the New York media and this recent implosion has been added to his resume playing against the USA or in the American first division. Once again this is not about where Marquez comes from, but who he is and why he was sought after by the Red Bulls.
This is a world class player that has done so much for the clubs he played for before coming to MLS. It’s a real shame that he has to display another moment of immaturity on the field. Off the field he has asked the media not to approach him anymore once the news of him calling out Tim Ream was reported.
But this story is not just about the history of Marquez actions on and off the field; We can turn the finger and point it at American superstar Landon Donovan. While he is seen as the great hero of the USA Men’s National Team, he’s had his bad moments as well.
If you don’t remember when he came over on loan from Bayer Leverkusen to play for the original San Jose Earthquakes, there was a televised ESPN2 Sunday afternoon game at Spartan Stadium in 2003 where he showed some nastiness of his own against the MetroStars.
After he took down Amado Guevara from behind and was booked for it, Donovan’s next victim was keeper Jonny Walker. As soon as Walker grabbed the ball on a bounce, Donovan intentionally lifted his right elbow and struck Walker in his stomach that took him down. Sadly he wasn’t shown a second yellow by the referee.
So for Landon Donovan to comment on the actions of the Red Bulls, as reported by Brian Straus of The Sporting News, is hypocritical:
“They took some cheap shots at us (during the game). In all my years in this league I have not played against a cheaper team than that. We saw it a few weeks ago with (Thierry) Henry kneeing someone in the back. We’ve seen that stuff all year.”
Honestly Landon, you’re no saint either. Even when you equalized against the Red Bulls at the Home Depot Center earlier this season, you had to go into the face of Thierry Henry and tell him about it.
Sadly at the end of a fantastic match that was well played by both sides, you had stupidity on the pitch as well as off it. To me this means that we are going to have an awesome second leg in this Western Conference Semi-Final.