NEW YORK — Since Rafael Márquez debuted for the Mexican National Team on Feb. 5, 1997, the USA and Mexico have played 21 matches in what is one of the most classic and passionate rivalries in all of international soccer.
For as much as Márquez may be identified by US fans as one of the El Tri players they have loved to hate over the years, he has actually missed more USA-Mexico matches than he has played. In fact, he has featured only nine times (nearly all as captain) against the US in a career that spans over a decade in Mexico green. However, only twice did Mexico win in those nine games and both came in Mexico City.
Those nine games have created some indelible memories for US fans.
RED CARDS: The flying Márquez head butt on Cobi Jones in the US' round of 16 victory at the 2002 FIFA World Cup is to this day considered the icing on the cake. The defender followed that up nearly seven years later with a 65th-minute ejection in 2010 World Cup Qualifying loss in Columbus. This time the crime was kicking US goalkeeper Tim Howard.
DEBUT VS USA: His first match against the Americans came in the semifinals of the 1999 Confederations Cup in Mexico City. He played the entire match as Mexico overcame the USA with a Cuauhtémoc Blanco golden goal on their path to Confederations Cup glory.
GOLD CUP FINAL: The only time Márquez represented Mexico against the US in the final of an official competition came in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He captained the team that lost to the Benny Feilhaber wonder-goal at Soldier Field in Chicago.
CONTEMPT FOR COLUMBUS: Visiting the Crew will not bring back the greatest memories for Márquez. He has played at Crew Stadium on three occasions for World Cup qualifiers—all three Mexico losses.
NO LUCK ON US SOIL: As accomplished as he has been in European club football, Márquez has never beaten the US north of the border. In addition to the three World Cup qualifying losses and the '07 Gold Cup final loss, he has played two other matches here, wearing the captain's armband for both. A 2008 friendly in Houston ended in 2-2, and the US kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., in 2009.