SECAUCUS, N.J. — Mexican national team captain Rafael Marquez signed Monday with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls, two days after he was released by Barcelona.
The 31-year-old defender joined former Barcelona teammate Thierry Henry on the Red Bulls. Henry made his MLS debut Saturday at Houston, forming an impressive front line with Juan Pablo Angel.
“Coming to New York and playing in Major League Soccer was a chance that I could not refuse,” Marquez said in a statement released by his new team. “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.”
Marquez, Angel and Henry give the Red Bulls three high-priced designated players not subject to the league's salary budget.
Marquez, who may play midfield for the Red Bulls, was to be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison.
He had 13 goals in 242 matches with Barcelona, helping win two Champions League titles, four Spanish league championships, a European Supercup and a Copa del Rey trophy. Before joining the Spanish power, he was with Monaco from 1999-03.
Marquez has 11 goals in 94 appearances for Mexico, scoring against South Africa at this year's World Cup. At the 2002 World Cup, he was ejected for headbutting Cobi Jones in the Americans' 2-0 second-round win over Mexico.
“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.”
Henry and Marquez are part of an influx of well-known players to MLS. Mexican forward Nery Castillo signed with the Chicago Fire, and Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez signed with the Seattle Sounders.
They join injured Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham and midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, acquired last week by the Fire from Seattle.
The Kansas City Wizards are in the market for a designated player and have been linked toMexican international Omar Bravo and Icelandic international Eidur Gudjohnsen.