Mendes happy to hand No. 4 jersey to Márquez

Red Bulls defender switches to No. 44 after six years

When the NFL's New York Jets signed linebacker Jason Taylor, many teammates teased Bryan Thomas about whether he would give up his number. Thomas has worn the No. 99 jersey for New York in the past few seasons—the same number Taylor made famous while with Miami.

Taylor showed up to Jets camp on Monday wearing the No. 99 jersey.

Neither player would tell the media the terms of the deal, but compensation was clearly made for Thomas to make the switch and begin donning his new number, 58.

“We don’t do it that way in our football,” a smiling Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told MLSsoccer.com this week.

They sure don’t. When former Barcelona player and Mexican national team captain Rafa Márquez joined the Red Bulls this past week, the issue of jersey numbers came up in New York's locker room. Marquez is known for wearing No. 4 for both club and country—the same number Red Bulls defender Carlos Mendes has worn for the past six years at the club.

But in the Red Bulls' corral, no sitdown is needed. 

“The club simply asked me if I would switch my number,” Mendes told MLSsoccer.com. “I said, ‘Sure.’”

Mendes, who has taken the No. 44, originally wore the No. 4 jersey as a tribute to his family as he is one of four children, but, he said, “The number really doesn’t have any significance outside of that."

For the switch with Márquez, no compensation was needed for Mendes. There were no lengthy discussions or haggling over price.

“Well, maybe he can take me out for dinner,” Mendes said, laughing. “No, seriously, I’m just kidding. We’re all really happy to have him here. It’s the least I can do to make him feel welcome.”

Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012