After more than 12 consecutive months of playing high-level soccer without a break, Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Márquez admits he's still not 100 percent as New York prepare to kick off their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
But the Mexican midfielder told MLSsoccer.com that even though he’s not in his best shape, that won't stop him from giving everything he has when RBNY face San Jose at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday (10 p.m. ET, TeleFutura).
“It’s still tough to play the full 90 minutes, but it’s time to try and give my all in the field so that I can help the team earn a good result,” Márquez said Wednesday before leaving for California.
Márquez is well aware of the danger the Earthquakes pose in attack, spearheaded by 2010 Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski.
“We know that San Jose is a very strong team that includes the top scorer of the league in a very offensive side," Márquez said. "They are strong physically, which will make for a difficult game. We are focused on taking a good result back home. We’ll try to play our game, win and take an important advantage and go home a little bit more relaxed.”
WATCH: MÁRQUEZ, ÁNGEL ON SAN JOSE MATCHUP (SPANISH)
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For his own part, the captain of the Mexican national team still wishes he had more time to round into form after coming to New York in July straight off El Tri's World Cup run, which in turn followed a long final season with FC Barcelona.
“I said it [before], it’s difficult to adjust when you don’t prepare during preseason," he explained. "Physically speaking, it’s very hard to keep up."
Still, Marquez said he's putting in extra efforts in each practice so that he can achieve two goals: reach an optimal physical shape that allows him to develop his game and, in the meantime, contribute to the Red Bulls as much as he can so they can lift their first-ever MLS Cup trophy in Toronto on Nov. 21.
“I’m making an effort to stay in shape, always trying to work hard,” he said. “After showing great things, reaching Columbus and being in first place, I believe that this team has what it takes to fight for the title. No doubt about it, we’re showing a good level and we have to keep working because we can become better still.”
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