The San Jose Earthquakes and New York Red Bulls entered Saturday as a pair of in-form teams with sizzling hot strikers and, considering they played to an entertaining 2-2 draw, you would think that the focus would be on the teams and the soccer, but that wasn't the case. Instead, all of the attention was on Rafael Marquez, who, if MLS does what they should, will not be on a MLS pitch for many, many weeks.
The Mexican international, who has been the center of controversy since joining the Red Bulls, toppled over Shea Salinas just before halftime for what should have been a penalty. It was not called, but that was not the issue. The issue came when Marquez then kicked Salinas, breaking his collarbone. It was a horribly dirty play that the referee did not see, but one that MLS will certainly take a long look at and likely hand out a lengthy suspension for.
San Jose took just 10 minutes to answer New York's goal, though. Rafael Baca took the ball from Dax McCarty in the midfield and the Quakes played quickly, eventually getting Khari Stephenson the ball, who crossed to an unmarked Baca, who had gotten forward from the midfield. Ryan Meara couldn't get back across the goal in time, leaving Baca with an easy finish to equalize.
McCarty atoned for his giveaway on the Quakes goal when he put the Red Bulls back in front seven minutes later. Dane Richards did most of the work, scampering down the right side despite two defenders being there and getting a good cross away. Kenny Cooper then accidentally flicked it on for McCarty, who hit a good shot from the top of the box for his first goal of the season.
The goals kept coming quickly as San Jose equalized 10 minutes before the break. Salinas was able to get the ball before it went out of touch and flicked it back into the middle where Chris Wondolowski's diving header left Meara no chance.
Not long after, Marquez would break Salinas' collarbone. The second half calmed down considerably and the matched played out to a 2-2 draw, but the goals and big-time players stepping up were not the story. Marquez was, once again, for all the wrong reasons.