The New York Red Bulls became the first MLS club to bring on a third designated player under the new CBA rules when they announced on Monday the signing of Mexican superstar Rafael Márquez.
Juan Pablo Angel and the recently signed Thierry Henry are the club’s two other DPs.
“I am excited to be joining the Red Bulls,” Márquez said in a press release. “Coming to New York and playing in Major League Soccer was a chance that I could not refuse. I am 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.”
Skillful and versatile, the 31-year-old Márquez has spent the past seven seasons with La Liga giants FC Barcelona. While with the Blaugrana, he won four league titles and two UEFA Champions League titles. Before joining Barça, he played four seasons with French club Monaco, helping the club to the Ligue 1 title in 2000.
WATCH: Interview with Márquez
A product of Guadalajara-based Primera División club Atlas, Márquez made his professional debut at the age of 17. He made 77 appearances for the club before moving to Europe in 1999.
On the international level, Márquez has been the captain of Mexico for more than eight years, leading El Tri to three World Cups, in 2002, 2006 and this past summer in 2010. He is one of the country’s most-capped players with 94 total appearances.
However, Márquez is perhaps most known to American soccer fans for his many lightning-rod performances against the United States National Team. He has been ejected from several Mexico-USA matches, including famously in the 2002 World Cup round of 16 and again last year during a World Cup qualifying match in Columbus.
The Red Bulls have discussed several options for where Márquez will play. Traditionally, he has played as a center back or libero, but in recent years he has also lined up in the midfield, where his ability to join the attack has been more evident. New York coach Hans Backe has said recently that he is looking for a creative midfielder to help drive the two-pronged attack led by Henry and Ángel.
Márquez should be available this weekend when the Red Bulls travel to face the Chicago Fire on Sunday evening (ESPN2, 9 pm ET).