The New York Red Bulls are going to be a rather depleted squad for the next several matches.
Major League Soccer announced on Thursday that, as expected, the league has suspended Rafa Marquez following the midfielder's actions during Saturday's RBNY vs. San Jose Earthquakes game. Marquez earned himself a three-match ban after he, as the MLSSoccer.com story explains it, "tackled, fell on and kicked (San Jose's Shea Salinas)" in the 42nd minute of the game. Salinas suffered a broken clavicle, an injury that will sideline him for roughly two months.
What the three-match ban means for Rafa Marquez: Lucky
Remember last fall when Marquez got into it with several players of the LA Galaxy following the postseason contest? Marquez received both a red card and an additional two-match ban for those actions. The only thing injured in that altercation was the ego of Marquez, as ESPN cameras caught him clearly pretending to be struck before falling to the ground as if he'd been shot. Salinas suffered a significant injury when Marquez drove the SJ man into the ground. Regardless of that fact, Marquez will miss the same amount of games as he did for the incident that occurred during what was to be New York's final home game of the 2011 campaign.
The vibe I got from RBNY fans, non-RBNY MLS supporters and a couple of individuals with MLS ties earlier this week was that four games was the over-under regarding a possible Marquez suspension. Anything less would be seen as far too little of a punishment for what slow-motion replays seemed to show as obvious intent to injure. Five or more games would, depending on your feelings regarding the subject, be either just right or even overkill.
What the three-match ban means for the New York Red Bulls: Uh-oh
The Red Bulls travel to DC United this coming Sunday. They then host the New England Revolution on April 28. The final match Marquez will miss will be the May 5 contest at LA Galaxy. Marquez will be one of several players unavailable to head coach Hans Backe for those particular contests. Teemu Tainio and Wilman Conde, arguably the team's two most important men when it comes to avoiding costly miscues that ultimately result in the opposing side finding the back of the net during a match, are sidelined due to injuries until at least mid-May. Roy Miller will miss at least one game because of a knee injury he sustained thanks to a questionable challenge from Marvin Chavez during last Saturday's game (Chavez has been suspended one game for that tackle). Forward Juan Agudelo is still nursing a knee injury. In short, it's bad times for Backe and company.
It's also situations such as these, as cliche as it may be to say, where a head coach earns his pay. I've thus far had little problem with how Backe has handled his squad during the opening stages of the current campaign. Backe now has quite the task ahead of him, as Sporting KC are threatening to pull away from the rest of the MLS East by June. We saw in 2011 how an early season slump can affect a team throughout the entire campaign. I'm very interested to see how Backe rotates guys during the upcoming couple of weeks.
After all, Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper can only cover so much ground.
Related: Marquez deserved worse