Carlos Bocanegra reacts to Rafa Marquez’s red-card foul on Tim Howard during World Cup qualifying in 2009. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)

By Michael Lewis Editor

Former Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez has a long rap sheet when it comes to U.S. players in international soccer and Major League Soccer over the past 15 years.

Until he scored the winning goal in Mexico’s 2-1 victory over the United States in a World Cup qualifying game Nov. 11, 2016, it was mostly a history of violence.

With Sunday’s World Cup qualifying confrontation between these two CONCACAF rivals on tap for Mexico City, here is a quick look:

* The Cobi Jones affair

In Mexico’s humiliating World Cup 2-0 loss to the U.S. at the 2002 World Cup, he head-butted Jones in the waning minutes.

* The Tim Howard affair

During a 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss to the U.S. in Columbus, Ohio in February 2009, Marquez went studs up into the goalkeeper while he was caught a cross.

* The Tim Ream affair

In October 2010, Marquez complained about defensive partner Tim Ream’s “infantile” play, earning the wrath of fans and media.

* The Landon Donovan affair

Immediately after the Red Bulls dropped an MLS playoff game to the LA Galaxy on Oct. 30, 2011, Marquez threw the ball at Donovan, starting a melee. Marquez was slapped with a three-match suspension — one for the red and two added one by the league — forcing him to miss the final game of the aggregate goals series and the first two games of the 2012 season.

* The Shea Salinas affair

During a corner kick late in the first half of the 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Red Bull Arena April 14, 2012 Marquez grabbed Salinas and tackled him to the ground. Salinas’ suffered a fractured left clavicle and said he will be sidelined six to eight weeks. Marquez was not sanctioned by referee Ricardo Salazar during the game. However, he was given a three-match ban, although Quakes general manager John Doyle wanted Marquez to sit for five games.

* The Hans Backe affair

At halftime of the Red Bulls’ playoff tie at D.C. United Nov. 3, 2012 Marquez threw a tirade at coach Hans Backe and in front of the team in the RFK Stadium locker room about Costa Rican defender Roy Miller replacing him after the Mexican went out with a calf injury.

* The final affair (aka the final straw)

And considering his history, Marquez’s final act as a Red Bull was quite appropriate. He incurred his second yellow card from referee Mark Geiger after a clumsy challenge in the 75th minute at Red Bull Arena, forcing New York to play to 10 men in what turned into a 1-0 playoff elimination defeat to D.C. United Nov. 8, 2012

Marquez is the only player in the 21-year history of MLS to end back-to-back playoffs with red cards.


Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at