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The First To Three: New York Announces Rafael Marquez, Red Bulls' Third Designated Player

Mexican international Rafael Márquez completes his departure from Barcelona by signing with New York, becoming the Red Bulls' third designated player.

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New York Red Bulls are the first Major League Soccer team to fill out their three designated player spots, making official the second worst kept secret of the season.  Whereas no not-so-breaking story could top the expected arrival of Thierry Henry, on Monday New York was confirmed as the landing spot of Mexican international Rafael Márquez.

"I am excited to be joining the Red Bulls," Marquez told the Red Bulls website. "Despite having the opportunity to fulfill my contract with Barcelona, coming to New York and playing in Major League Soccer was a chance that I could not refuse. I am completely committed to doing my very best to help the Red Bulls in their playoff push this year and compete for championships in the years to come."

Márquez had been with Barcelona since 2003 when he moved from French club Monaco. While at the Nou Camp, Márquez appeared in 163 league matches, a tenure that ended last Friday when the Spanish champions announced the central defender would be allowed out of his contract.  He leaves Barcelona as part of four Spanish Primera Division champions and two UEFA Champions League winners.

With the emergence of Gerard Piqué, Márquez found his place in Barcelona's starting lineup taken once he returned from a knee injury suffered in April 2009.  His 23 all-competition appearances in 2009-10 were the fewest of any of his seasons in Spain.

Any doubt as to 31-year-old's quality were assuaged this summer, when Márquez returned to México's World Cup team in a pseudo defensive midfield role, eventually regaining the captain's armband and leading his team into the competition's second round, scoring El Tri's first goal of the tournament.

"Rafael has shown on the club and international level that he is one of the world's top players,'' Dietmar Beiersdorfer, head of Red Bull global soccer, said in a statement. "He has been a winner at all levels and illustrated that he is a leader both on and off the field."

Márquez joins Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Ángel as Red Bulls designated players, with New York becoming the first team in Major League Soccer to have three designated players on the active roster. The move triggers a $250,000 tax, money that will be dispersed amongst the league's other teams as allocation money."