UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — When the Red Bulls acquired Mexican national team captain Rafa Márquez this past summer, New York became the first MLS club with three Designated Players.
Though Márquez was accustomed to playing a central defensive role with Mexico and former club Barcelona, El Tri's captain was moved into the midfield at New York. But head coach Hans Backe is looking to address the Red Bulls' needs at striker and on the back line.
“It is a possibility to play him in the back four,” the Swedish coach said.
Backe should be well aware of Márquez's prowess in central defense. As an assistant coach with Mexico from 2008 to 2009, he had a front row seat to Márquez's talismanic performances on the back line.
Márquez was effective at times partnered alongside rookie Tony Tchani in the heart of New York’s midfield, but he admits that his trip to the World Cup with Mexico following a European season in Barcelona compromised his fitness. With the Red Bulls now eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs, Márquez will have the opportunity for some much needed rest.
“Now, next season, I have no excuse not to do things the right way," he said on Thursday at training.
Will he be doing things the right way in the center of the park or in the back four?
“Center back is my natural position,” Márquez admitted. “I don’t have any problem to play back in the center [of the defense].”
“It doesn’t matter where I play as long as I play.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012