Monday, September 26, 2011

The MLS Grinder: Rafa Marquez is a moron

The Grinder watched disinterestedly this week as the Montreal Impact somehow failed to make the NASL's top six to miss the playoffs in their last year before joining MLS. No first-year MLS team has ever been more excited for an expansion draft. A message to all 18 MLS sides: protect your junk.

The Grinder continues following the rabbit hole to the MLS playoffs this week. We start, as we often do, with another engrossing episode of As The Red Bulls Turn.

"I see you've caught me in repose. I am as good looking as Ream is bad, no?"
New York 2, Portland 0: The crowd seemed to sense something in this one. It could have been that the sell-out crowd of 25,000+ knew the Red Bulls can flip the switch at any time and decide to be the best team in the league. They also saw a similarly playoff-hungry Portland team headed into town, and they were not about to see FIFA 12's best-rated MLS team falter this close to the playoffs.

The Grinder has dipped into the conversation regarding New York's failure at figuring out how to properly use the DP system that LA has on lock. They made a boneheaded move for 80-year-old Frank Rost in the summer, for one. But Rafa Marquez has been a spectacularly, explosively bad allocation of resources. He's been so-so on the field, sometimes awful even, and New York fans, never one to couch their feelings, have been showering the 32-year-old Mexico captain with all sorts of fun verbal barbs. So Marquez whips back with eight kinds of idiocy after a 3-1 loss to RSL on Wednesday.

There was this...
“If you watched the game, there were individual errors that you can’t do anything about,” Márquez, 32, told Empire of Soccer. “If we look at statistics, I stole a lot of balls. I think I made two or three bad passes out of 30-plus attempts. I almost didn’t commit any errors, so I am not worried. I think I am playing at my maximum level and doing everything I can. I don’t have, unfortunately, four defenders on my level that can help me out.”
And then a cheap shot at Tim Ream:
“Tim is still a young player with a lot to learn. He still has quite a lot to learn, and well, he has committed errors that are very infantile and cost us goals."
Then Rafa paused to do this real quick before taking a last jab.

“I think that this is a team game, and unfortunately, there isn’t an equal level between perhaps (fellow N.Y. designated player Thierry Henry) and myself, and our teammates."
And now we're done. We were pretty sure there was a rift between Marquez and the rest of the lads based on his blase performances and his bitter reception at home, but we had no idea it was this wide. Hans Backe did about all he could and suspended Rafa for the Portland game. Hard to censure a DP like Marquez more completely with the playoffs bearing down and $4.6 million on the line. So Rafa sat, New York shed its debilitating knack for getting behind early, Portland went down and the Red Bulls strengthened their playoff positioning. No Marquez, no goals. Funny how that works.

This was not the death knell for the Timbers (though it does make things harder), nor was it the game that will get New York into the playoffs. DC is hot on the trail, one point behind NY for the final wild card spot with two in hand, and DeRo is smoking fools right now. And who knows what happens when Marquez comes back and has the most awkward conversation in the history of awkward conversations with Tim Ream. But eh, they're providing some good entertainment.

Chicago 3, New England 2: The Fire can't catch a break this year. Most notably, they set an MLS record for draws, which you can't do without some stretches of plain dumb bad luck. This weekend, they score a big win over New England to keep alive some fleeting hope of a postseason berth, and they lose Sebastian Grazzini for at least a game with a hamstring pull. These are games the Fire need. If Chicago loses again it might be curtains. They have six points to make up on New York to qualify and time is slipping away.

This was a fun game, though. Rafa Marquez would probably blame all eight defenders for being terrible human beings and lacking the ability to be as awesome as he is, but not everybody can be so devastatingly handsome and have such rapier-sharp footballing abilities, you know?

LA Galaxy 1, Columbus 0: What's up with the Crew?

It wasn't that long ago that articles were popping up like weeds honoring Robert Warzycha's lovable band of no-names that had improbably shot up to the top of the East. Now Columbus is 0-4-1 in its last five and dropped three points to an LA team that didn't start Donovan and didn't even play Keano or Becks. The Crew are in no immediate danger of missing the playoffs - they'd have to be the Boston Red Sox to pull that off - but they do risk entering the playoffs on a tear of poor results. We all know the effect that can have.

The obvious answer to my initial question is that Columbus isn't that great to begin with. They didn't have a single call-up to the MLS All-Star team and their faceless roster is represented well enough by their sponsor-less jerseys. They've been punching above their weight all year, a credit to Warzycha and his staff to be sure, but runs of form like those aren't typically sustainable. It doesn't help that nobody is showing up to games. The Crew are dead last in attendance.

This loss hurt, too. LA is like the fat kid who steals all your birthday cake. Didn't you have enough already, dude?

Houston 1, Dallas 0: Houston, which amazingly still has a chance to be the East's No. 1 team, had not won a road game all year. Only three teams in MLS history have ever done that.

Then this happened.

The Hoops have lost three straight in the league and haven't scored in 270 minutes. With form like that in the postseason, FCD is going out like Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter. Blaze. Of. Glory.

We'll end today marveling at Dwayne De Rosario's ridiculousness. How good would New York be with DeRo still raging all over folks? DC United can thank him for the work if they end up making the playoffs. His last goal in a 4-1 win over RSL was impossible. This was his second hat trick in a month and a half and he completed this one in all of nine minutes. Fastest in league history. No big deal or anything. He now leads the league in goals with 13, is fourth in assists with nine, is tied for first in shots on goal and has literally lashed United to his back in September. I mean, not literally. But you get the picture. Just watch the carpet bombing.

- Will Parchman


Matt said...

So who thinks Backe has the balls to sit Marquez again this week? I certainly hope he does. Didn't like Rafa before he joined MLS and I don't like him anymore now.

Will Parchman said...

Backe is in the weeds a little bit, if you ask me. He's often mismanaged his lineup, and injuries have only compounded matters. Now you pile this Marquez trouble on top and things are really starting to head off a cliff. Does Marquez sit again? I have no inside information, but my guess would be no. And its not because he should be playing. I'm sure there are politics involved.

Matt said...

Rafa is pure clubhouse poison a la Moises Alou, and the team will be better off to ship him far, far away. Mendes isn't that bad, and I'm sure having Rafa back there doesn't do anything good for Ream's confidence.

But he'll probably play, and the Red Bulls will probably Toronto. And then the knives will really come out.