It’s been five days since the devastating injury to Shea Salinas at Red Bull Arena, and finally Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee has come down with a decision on Rafa Marquez. The Mexican international has been served a three match suspension and an undisclosed fine.
The injury was dealt in the 42nd minute. The Earthquakes began their set play on a corner kick, and while the ball was being delivered Marquez hooked the arms of Salinas from behind. He rode Salinas to the ground hard, breaking Salinas’ clavicle in four places. There was also a kick to the head which appeared intentional, but was not the cause of the injury.
While punishment was being considered, Salinas had already forgiven Marquez for the incident. While Salinas is looking at a six to eight week recovery, Marquez will be back by May. While the severity of an injury should have little influence on the stiffness of the punishment meted, Marquez’ history of trouble would indicate that three weeks may be light.
During the pre-season, Marquez told the media that he wanted to look past last season’s difficulties and concentrate on the new one. He wanted to get past his issues: from calling Tim Ream infantile, all the way to throwing the ball at Landon Donovan after the 1st leg of the MLS Cup Quarterfinals. He simply wanted to serve his suspension from that episode and move forward.
His turning over of a new leaf started very well in the Red Bulls three match winning streak. He even picked up a few assists on Thierry Henry’s goals. Yet the Salinas incident, and it’s accompanying suspension, come at a price as the Red Bulls are nursing some injuries. Teemu Tainio is out with a leg injury, while Wilman Conde is suffering thru a groin injury. Roy Miller just went out tackle from behind by Marvin Chavez in the San Jose match, while Juan Agudelo continues to rehab his slight meniscus tear surgery.
Marquez will miss three important matches on the Red Bulls schedule: at DC United this Sunday, next Saturday afternoon at home against the New England Revolution, and a May 5th road game at the defending MLS Cup Champions Los Angeles Galaxy.
For Hans Backe & Erik Soler, they were already prepared for this suspension and will now have to look at their reserves to see who can step up in Marquez’s absence. Some have said Victor Palsson will get another chance, as he is itching to fix his form after the away game at Real Salt Lake earlier this year.
It’s a bit disheartening when the captain of Mexico’s National Team, who had said he wanted to improve his play and have a better 2012, further sullies his image with undesirable behavior. What does Rafa Marquez need to do to avoid putting himself into these incidents? The feelings from many of the supporters of the club are that this incident should be the last straw. They have felt embarrassed by the negative play from Marquez, and they wish he would be released or moved to any club that will pay his salary in the upcoming summer transfer window. Can he respect his opponent while still playing hard? If Marquez can answer these questions by improving his play on the field, only then will this latest suspension be enough.