Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Public Enemy Number One Heads to New York

AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Recently on its website, Sports Illustrated published a list of the most hated teams in sports history.

It was all the teams you loved to hate. Whether it be lots of money, dirty play, or just lots of attitude, the team was despised.

One more thing that especially got most of the teams vilified was that they won championships.

To American soccer fans, Rafael Marquez is a villain. To the New York Red Bulls, he may just be the bad guy that gives them a winning edge.

Think back to the NBA in the late 1980s and throughout the '90s. Dennis Rodman was mean. He was pierced all over, had tattoos all over, and dyed his hair crazy colors. He wore wedding dresses. He kicked cameramen.

He also, however, led the league in rebounding seven consecutive seasons and was named defensive player of the year twice.

Most importantly, he played a key role in three championship teams with the Chicago Bulls and two with the Detroit Pistons (a team infamous for its "Bad Boys" moniker).

Marquez has an awful reputation with soccer fans in the United States.

He is the captain of the Mexican National Team, the United States' arch rival. In the two teams' match up in the 2002 World Cup he was red carded for purposely head butting Cobi Jones. There was also the World Cup qualifier in 2009 where he kicked goalkeeper (and fan favorite) Tim Howard.

It’s all enough to earn him status as public enemy number one in the states.

However, he has captained three Mexican World Cup teams, all of which made it to at least the knockout round. He was a French Ligue 1 Best Defender and named Best North American player in 2005.

He's won the Ligue 1 championship once with Monaco, La Liga four times and the UEFA Champions League twice with Barcelona, and the FIFA Confederations Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup with Mexico.

He's tough, he's skilled, and he's a winner.

Marquez will play central midfield for the Red Bulls. His possession and passing ability will link the defense to the offense, creating more scoring chances.

He will be the enforcer if anyone tries to rough up high-priced forward Thierry Henry.

He will bring some of the 79,156 fans that crammed New Meadowlands Stadium to watch Mexico face Ecuador to Red Bull Arena.

He could also get a few red cards and encourage some animosity from outsiders to himself and the organization.

But no one in New York will care as long as this villain helps to finally deliver a championship.

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