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Marquez, Conde breathe life back into the Red Bulls

RafaRapids (Getty)


Though an impressive brace by both Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper may steal headlines, the Red Bull’s dominating 4-1 victory over Colorado was more than just the story of a goal-scoring explosion.

The return of Rafa Marquez and Wilman Conde made all the difference in stabilizing and inspiring New York’s striking turnaround and helping deliver their first win of the season on Sunday.

“Do I even need to say?” Thierry Henry told the gathered media post game.  “When you have Wilman at the back it gives you that confidence.  He has a great left foot.  And you can also see what it does when Rafa is on the field.  

"Not to find any excuses for him, but it was his first game in a very long time," Henry said of Marquez. "I think you could see at the end he was a bit tired. We were all tired but I think he was a bit more than us. But obviously having him on the field and Conde, that changes a lot for us."

Rafa Marquez teamed with Dax McCarty in the midfield, developing a symbiotic relationship that enabled the returning Red Bulls DP to apply his game on both sides of the pitch.  “I think we work well together,” McCarty explained during training this week. “When he pushes up, I know to cover, and when he is covering, I know I can push up.”  As a result, McCarty, who had struggled mightily in the first two matches of the season, enjoyed an inspired performance backed by the steady play of his midfield partner.

“The way (Marquez) can organize the team, attacking and defending during 90 minutes, his precise passing game, when to get possession and when to go direct is very important for us,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. The defense and distribution displayed by Marquez enabled the previously disjointed Red Bull’s midfield to create fluidity.  He played a key role in stretching the field on a depleted Rapids midfield, exposing the opposition’s weaknesses while giving New York the confidence on defense to allow them to press up top.  Though he was stripped of the ball leading to the Red Bull’s lone goal against, it did little to take away from a strong debut.

“I think we changed our attitude,” Marquez noted of his team’s performance. “It was about fighting for every ball, about not giving up, and today we showed that.  I think everyone in their role reinforced that.”

Meanwhile, the returning Wilman Conde, who has not played a professional competitive match in nearly a year, didn’t look like he missed a beat.  Coming off of surgery to his left foot and a right thigh strain, the Colombian centerback was a physical presence in the middle, surprisingly unafraid to challenge for the ball when called upon.  His commanding leadership in the back spearheaded a return to form for a defensive line that desperately needed organization. 

“He’s very patient, composed; I think (he helped) everyone settle down a little bit,” Backe noted.  “I didn’t know anything about his leadership before he arrived. I think it was our first friendly game and just hearing him in the lockerroom before the game, just to gear people up – and of course on the pitch, he is very, very strong in the tactical work.  His passing game is great.”

Conde capped off an impressive return with a left footed assist on a dead ball situation just behind the midfield stripe that split the defense, allowing Thierry Henry to sink his second goal of the match and the Red Bull’s third notch of the game. 

Overall, Backe could only describe Conde’s contributions in one word.  “Massive, massive.”

Will New York's good fortune continue?   They will find out when they host the Montreal Impact this Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Meanwhile, share your thoughts on yesterday's match below.


  1. In addition to the comments about strong play from Henry, Marquez and Conde — with which I agree — I thought Cooper had a fantastic work ethic for the full 90 so he can join Henry, Lindpere and Richards who are tireless workers. Cooper needs to keep his eyes open for Henry’s runs; the two of them should connect throughout the year.

    Another strong performance by Meara in goal.

    It’s also good that Miller had a strong performance after a couple of very weak ones.

  2. you know what I liked bout mccarty, when there was a set play in the first half you can see him yelling and trying to organize the team- the guy cares- shows heart.

  3. Very pleased, Confidence wise they needed a game like this. Conde and Marquez surprised me equally, both first games one injured and the other suspended and under alot of pressure- Marquez did great, i love him at defensive mid. He will only get better as the chemistry in the team gets better and the team takes shape. Henry is in his best form since he arrived here, its a joy watching him play. He came back and defended, he attacked- created- just an all around amazing performance. BTW Cooper is becoming a fan fav for sure as well, down to earth guy with a penchant for scoring goals is always a nice thing.

  4. Yeah, I get that. He did also show up the ref yesterday, sprinting 50 yards and getting in his face over a call that probably could have gone either way. I don’t know what it is – maybe I’m just oversensitive – but there’s something about the way he talks to people on the field that seems disrespectful. Maybe it is fire in the belly, but sometimes it seems to me like it’s just ego… probably a little of both, I guess.

  5. Fair enough. Not good to show up a teammate (or an opponent, or a referee). But I give him credit for his passion and intensity. Sometimes he seems like he’s the only one with a real fire in his belly out there.

  6. Very good job by Marquez and Conde yesterday, and McCarty played better as well. The team looked substantially better – still playing a similar style, but being much more effective with it and controlling the tempo. Meara also had another solid game. He might have done a bit better on the goal – he seemed a bit indecisive about coming out and got stuck in no man’s land – but he’ll improve on that kind of thing with experience. He made some very nice stops.

  7. I actually respectfully disagree about Henry. There’s a way to hold your teammates accountable, and then there’s berating them and being disrespectful to them publicly. I don’t think the way he was gesturing and yelling at Cooper yesterday was appropriate. Henry doesn’t seem to be able to let a mistake go – if something goes wrong, he yaps about it for the next 30 seconds and sometimes takes himself completely out of the game. I know that’s just who he is, but I don’t think that’s the best way to lead. That being said, if he keeps scoring goals and developing his apparent chemistry with Cooper, he’ll be able to get away with more of that.

  8. Absolutely. He will help the entire defense, including Holgersson, the other new guy. The back line was vastly improved yesterday with Conde in the lineup. Looks like Backe’s confidence in this guy was well founded.

  9. No a RB Fan but Conde has always been a player I liked watching. He’s a proper old-school CB that is physical, smart, a good passer, and shows strong leadership at the back and that can only help Ryan Meara.

  10. Agree for the most part, with the exception that there is no such thing as an easy game / opponent for Metro. Ever. Else, nicely said.

  11. As well as Dax McCarty did last night, he also gave the ball away 4 or more times that I saw. Then there was him and Solli with terrible shanks trying to shoot. It was a great performance, but still many errors to clean up.

  12. Absolutely. And that would be the completely logical reaction.

    It’s not all one or the other, you know — competitive situations vary all the time. Beat up on a mid-level team (and hardly anybody thinks the Rapids are better than that) when they’re down, or on a low-level team, and it doesn’t mean you’re great. Lose to a mid-level team when they’re down or a low-level team, and that’s obviously worse. Would you have heartily applauded RSL if they’d predictably beaten Chivas in Rio Tinto on Saturday? That’s the expected result, of course, which is why it was so much worse for them to lose at home to Chivas on Saturday.

    I was only talking about this game, as I think was clear in my comments, not about previous NYRB or Rapids outings.

  13. Yes Conde and Marquez were the story even though 4 goals were scored. It bodes well for the Red Bulls for both to have such good games.

    Cummings did well to quickly exploit Marquez mistake and finish it with one fantastic shot!

    Weird not replacing Marquez if Backe thinks he is visibly tired.

    Lets see if Red Bull can continue this form against opponents not missing key starters.

  14. I dont know much about Cooper but he looks to be in a good situation with Marquez, Henry & Conde around him. The guy could easily get 10-15 goals or maybe more this year.

  15. To be fair, NY was missing three key players in the first two games (Conde, Marquez and Rodgers) and everyone beat them up for their performances, so I believe the team deserves the credit its receiving.

    We’re only three games into the season, but Colorado was undefeated through the first 2, so its hard to tell if they are a mid-level team, better or worse.

    The team looked solid, particularly the partnership of Henry and Cooper, so if they can keep up this form in a relatively easy game vs. Montreal next week, they can get right back into the mix at the top of the eastern conference table.

  16. New York did precisely what you’re supposed to do in that situation and walked — strolled — away with the 3 points. Good for them.

    That said, it seems a rather different question, whether a home opener victory over a mid-level opponent missing 4-5 key players and gifting goals just a couple of mins into the match actually heralds a significant turnaround for Backe and Thierry and company.

  17. I know it’s nit-picking, but if you have a comfortable lead and you notice from the bench that one of your players is obviously, visibly tired, doesn’t that suggest the need for a substitution?

    I love the high standard that Henry sets. He’s never complacent, always demanding better. Saw him yapping at Cooper after Cooper took an ill-advised shot instead of passing. If he continues to exercise leadership and demands accountability on the field and in the clubhouse, besides his great play, he could lift the whole team.


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