Rafa Marquez released by Red Bulls and joins Leon

Rafa Marquez lines up on the field during Rafa Marquez lines up on the field during a game against DC United at Red Bull Arena. (Nov. 8, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty

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HARRISON, N.J. -- 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.

The Red Bulls said his release was by mutual agreement. Mexico's captain at the 2010 World Cup, Marquez signed with New York as a high-priced designated player from Barcelona in August 2010 after losing his starting role in central defense to Gerard Pique.

Marquez had one goal and nine assists in 44 regular-season games, playing in just 15 matches this year. He started in six playoff games in his career with the team and was ejected from two of them.

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