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Red Bulls Release Defender Rafa Marquez

Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls

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HARRISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Defender Rafa Marquez was released by the New York Red Bulls on Thursday following 2 1-2 frustrating seasons known more for ejections than success and immediately signed with Leon of the Mexican league.

Marquez, whose $4.6 million salary was the second-highest in Major League Soccer behind teammate Thierry Henry’s $5.6 million, will play for a Mexican team for the first time since 1999, when he left Atlas to play for Monaco in the French league.

Marquez signed with New York as a designated player from FC Barcelona on Aug. 2, 2010. He started 42 of 44 regular-season games and had one goal and nine assists.

Last season, Marquez played in 15 matches and had three assists. He started in six playoff games in his career with the team.

In April, Marquez was suspended for three games when he was tackled, fell on and kicked his opponent.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee viewed Marquez’s actions as “violent conduct that demonstrated blatant disregard for the safety of his opponent.”

The opposing Earthquakes player, Shea Salinas, suffered a broken collarbone as a result.

He also was suspended by the Red Bulls for a game in September 2011 after criticizing teammates.

“This decision has been made in the best interests of both parties concerned,” new Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said. “Rafa has accomplished a great deal during his career and is a top quality player. We want to thank him for his service to the Red Bulls and wish him the best of luck in the next stage of his career.”

Leon, a five time Mexican champion, spent 10 years in the second division until last summer when it returned to Mexico*s top level. Carlos Slim owns 30 percent of the team along with broadcasting rights.

“I*m sure our fans will give Rafael Marquez a great welcome as the new member of our team,” Leon club president Jesus Martinez said.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)