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2016 Player Review: Richie Marquez

A look back at Union’s best central defender

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

2016 Summary: The Philadelphia Union’s stalwart at the center back position started 33 of the 34 games in the regular season, plus their lone playoff game. The only game he didn’t play in, due to injury, was the season opener against FC Dallas. His individual play was great even if the team statistics don’t bear it out. The Union allowed the second-most goals of any MLS playoff team; only NYCFC allowed more, but they also scored 10 more goals than Philadelphia. He spent the lion’s share of his season being the lone tower defending aerial passes, and being the last line of defense to make up for Fabinho getting caught up field in attack or getting beaten. He notched two goals of his own during the season, while managing to only receive four yellow cards. That low of a yellow card count is a testament to how good his precision tackling is. All in all, it was a good individual season as a member of a bad defensive unit, unfortunately.

What Went Right: Richie makes great committed runs in closing down defenders that get on the run toward the goal, and makes goal-saving slide tackles. There are too many instances to mention, and they don’t make it on to MLS’s highlight reels. He logged 2,970 minutes officially, but that means he played every minute of the 33 matches he was in including stoppage time. The highlight of his season, offensively, came in second-half stoppage time against DC United, where he tallied his first MLS goal:

This game-winning goal exhibited his best attributes: Great read of a pass in-flight (which normally he clears away from the net) and timing of getting his foot to the ball mid-slide (which he normally does in dispossessing an opponent). His effort and fire shown post-goal serve as evidence that he can be a core part of a winning side going forward.

What Went Wrong: The most vital part of a centerback’s success is his chemistry with his fellow centerback. Richie was not really afforded that opportunity, as the left CB spot was split between Josh Yaro and Ken Tribbett. Both of those players got their first MLS experience in 2016. Yaro battled injury issues all year, while Tribbett battled not being good enough for MLS all year. The lack of quality communication was never more apparent between Marquez and another defender than in Didier Drogba’s third goal during the July 23rd match:

Marquez thought Ray Gaddis was taking control of Drogba, so his read was to take away Drogba’s potential passing lane, but Gaddis broke to the wing never covering Drogba, and everyone looked stupid.

Is Marquez the team’s best defender? Is he rated more favorably because of his fantastic facial hair? Let us know in the comments.