Once again, Thierry Henry proclaims Rafa Marquez to be New York's secret weapon – the key to winning trophies. And once again, we the fans roll our eyes. For all of his supposed talent, Red Bull supporters continue to see Rafa as slow, fragile, temperamental, and a poor team player. Based on his minutes played and conduct on the field this season, it's hard to argue against that assessment.
That is, until you look at the numbers. That's exactly what the Post's Brian Lewis did this afternoon, effectively fact-checking Henry's praise for his long-time teammate.
The Mexican star has only played ten games this year due to a litany of injuries and suspensions, with only nine starts. But they’re 6-0-3 for 21 points when he starts, dominating their foes by a goal differential of 27-14. They’re a pedestrian 8-7-4 for 28 points when he hasn’t started, actually outscored 22-26.
In short, they've averaged three goals and 2.3 points with Marquez in the lineup, just 1.15 goals and 1.47 points without.
With this weekend's performance against Columbus, I started questioning the lack of faith in Marquez, thanks in no small part to post-match comments by players like Dax McCarty as well as what I witnessed myself in Rafa's outstanding assist on Henry's goal. I knew I'd seen that kind of precision distribution from Marquez before, so I went back to check the highlights. Sure enough, there were more examples than I realized...
May 2011 vs. Chivas USA
October 2011 vs. LA Galaxy
March 2012 vs. Montreal Impact
September 2012 vs. Columbus Crew
Sure, he had a few clunky moments this weekend, but that seems fairly natural for someone who's spent most of the season injured or suspended. But moving closer to the post-season, love him or hate him, there's no denying Rafa Marquez's value to the Red Bulls when he's on the pitch.