Red Bulls Unveil Rafa Marquez

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 | View Comments

Editor's Note: MFUSA writer Vlad Bouchouev attended the Red Bulls unveiling of new signing Rafa Marquez today at Red Bull Arena.

by Vlad Bouchouev

What a fantastic few weeks it has been for MLS. It hasn’t been the most active transfer market around the world but it certainly has been frantic by MLS standards. Kudos to MLS and its teams for being smart and proactive during this window.

The signing of Rafael Marquez is significant on many different levels. First, it is the first time a MLS team will have three Designated Players on their roster; with that in mind the Red Bulls have now surpassed the Galaxy as the league’s highest profile club. And although it may seem that the Red Bulls are now setting the bar with the big-name signings, MLS commissioner Don Garber explained that this is in no way a message to other clubs to begin signing Designated Players. The Red Bulls are simply trying to help the league by elevating themselves to a new frontier.

Secondly, Marquez’s signing is a direct marketing ploy to attract more Hispanics and Latinos to MLS games. Garber also confirmed this at Marquez’s press conference, explaining that it was in New York’s best interest to sign a player that would be able to reach out to the area’s large Mexican-American community.

Thirdly, it was now the confirmation that MLS is being taken seriously in Europe. Players like Marquez and Alvaro Fernandez could have more or less easily found a European team for which to play. Specifically in Marquez’s case, the Red Bulls had to fend off European giants Juventus to get the signature of the Mexican captain. On a basic level, players are beginning to treat MLS clubs with respect approaching clubs like Juventus. Not only is there an influx of talent in the league, but these players are by no means “washed-up”; as Marquez indicated earlier today, “I have not come here to finish my career. I am only 31 years old.”

Whether or not the recent signings will be an ultimate success is not yet clear. But let’s face it: anytime big clubs around the world make multi-million dollar signings there is some heavy risk involved (Wow, I’m already starting to call the Red Bulls a “big club”). However the league is trying very hard to make “tactical” signings and not just waste money. Like Red Bulls sporting director Eric Soler explained, “When you build a soccer team, the most important things are the things on the pitch, but you need the right personalities as well. That has been a huge consideration for the NY Red Bulls.” As a fan of the MLS, you couldn’t be happier to hear that -- we’re blessed that club are not just signing egos (like some notorious clubs do overseas) but top-class professionals that will gradually build up this league. David Beckham was signed mainly as a marketing tool to promote the game. Cuahutemoc Blanco, Nery Castillo, and now Rafael Marquez were signed to attract the Hispanic and Latino populations. Blaise Nkufo and Mista were signed as quality under-the-radar players. Yes, there have been a few unsuccessful big-name signings like Denilson and Luis Angel Landin in recent years, but every team is going to have a few bad signings every now and then. What is positive is that it seems that the league is learning from their mistakes, as well as mistakes from its predecessor, the NASL.

It’s great time to be a fan of American soccer. So if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, I urge you to do so. As for the Red Bulls, they've likely reached the level of most hated team on MLS for all the right reasons. Finally, a little bit more zest in this league! It should be one fantastic finish to this already historic season.

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