December 19, 2012
MY TWO CENTS
The king is dead, but long live the king?
C.B. Whitaker is a long-time Red Bulls fan from Kingston, N.Y.
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By C.B. Whitaker
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
The bells of good tidings are still ringing in most fans’ ears: Rafa Márquez has been released from the New York Red Bulls soccer club to join Léon of the Liga MX in Mexico. The cruelly disappointing and unusually frustrating reign of Márquez comes to a close, crowned with the dubious honor of being regarded as the biggest bust for a Designated Player signing in Major League Soccer history.
Let us take another moment to jump for joy over a future without that arrogant albatross around our necks. So what if he cost $4.6 million and played only 15 games last year? He’s no longer our problem. Enjoy Léon! The king of smelly cologne and even stinkier soccer is all yours. For the NYRB faithful, this king is dead!
But Red Bull fans cannot chant the “Long Live the King” part of the saying with nearly as much gusto. Although we all know Márquez was the reigning villain of the squad, who exactly is the king of our team? Of course, it should be captain Thierry Henry, but his leadership is lackluster and has come into question in the past year.
It is impossible to forget his last game, which he nearly single-handedly lost when he committed a gross encroachment violation on Kenny Cooper’s penalty kick and then delegated a potentially game-tying free kick in the last minute to Roy Miller. In each case, he showed a lack of discipline and a failure to take responsibility. Rather than shine, he only made other people look bad.
His tendencies to avoid mixing it up with center backs, to drop out of the action for large patches of every game, to criticize his teammates on the pitch as he strolled leisurely about, and to find fault with the team when speaking to the press are simply not the earmarks of a strong leader. He simply lacks the courage, fight, and belief needed from a captain.
It’s no surprise that MLS.com neglected to do a “Taking the Lead” feature on Henry as captain of the Red Bulls. Furthermore, he received not one vote from MLS clubs’ general managers, technical directors, or coaches for MLS MVP. He’s not an exemplary leader and pales in comparison to Juan Pablo Angel, the team’s previous DP captain.
Unless the team’s more passionate DP, Tim Cahill, is named team captain for 2013, perhaps the chant should be amended to" The villain is dead, long live the villain.
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