January 24, 2014

Q&A with Philadelphia Union draft pick Richie Marquez

Today, Redlands defender Richie Marquez flies from California to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in his quest to earn a MLS contract with the Philadelphia Union.  It was just three days ago that Philadelphia Union drafted the tall, athletic centerback in the third round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.  The 2013 SCIAC Player of the Year and D3soccer.com All-American was one of two Division III players to have participated in the 2014 MLS Player Combine leading up to the draft and was one of seven Division III players that MLS teams registered to be eligible for selection. A solid showing at the combine elevated Marquez from a virtual unknown to a likely draft pick, and his name was called as the 44th overall selection. Despite only three days to prepare for his trip east for preseason training, Marquez graciously took time to speak with D3soccer.com the day after the draft and respond to some questions.

Redlands defender Richie Marquez was drafted by Philadelphia Union with the 44th overall pick of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
(Photo: Univ. of Redlands Sports Information)

Christan Shirk, D3soccer.com: First of all, congratulations on a good combine and on being drafted by Philadelphia Union. It’s a pretty big deal, so to start off, let me ask what went through your head yesterday and what was your day like after you got the news that you had been drafted?

Richie Marquez: Well, to be honest, I was too nervous to even watch the draft. I tried to avoid it at all costs, but my buddies were up and watching the computer. Then all of sudden I was, like, “I can’t watch this” and I go to the kitchen just to make some breakfast and my buddy just yells out: “Ohh my gosh. 44th pick. Philadelphia,” and I thought I was dreaming and so I was like “I’m going to wake up anytime soon.” It was a great feeling, an amazing feeling. I almost didn’t know how to comprehend it, how to take it all in. So I just kept on thinking, “I gotta call my Dad, my Mom, and my coach, like right now as soon I get a chance.” It was a great feeling, everyone giving me much love and much respect and it was definitely one of the best days, probably the best day of my life so far.

Has Philadelphia Union been in touch with you since the draft? What did they have to say?

Yeah, they have. They gave me details about when I have to fly out, the schedule of camp, and stuff like that.

When are you expected to join the team for preseason training?

I fly out on Friday morning actually.

So you will be in Pennsylvania in a few days. Are you ready for sub-freezing temperatures and snow?

I don’t know if I am yet. I’ve been born and raised in Southern California so I’m used to 80 degree weather year round. We’ll see.

Well, it was in the single digits last night and the region got six inches to a foot of snow yesterday.

Wow! That’s insane.

How will preseason training with Philadelphia affect your studies?

I’ll have to be doing courses on line, but I should be on track and should graduate with my class this year. So I just have to keep on top of my school work. But my professors and the school are all for it, so it’s just a matter of getting it done now.

Shifting back to the MLS Combine, did you have any sense or reason to think that Philadelphia or any other team was interested enough to possibly draft you? Or was it a complete surprise?

Honestly, I try not to look into things too much. You know, I like to keep a clear head. I knew that just being at the combine was a huge accomplishment, and I knew that I had to embrace every moment of it, every minute of it because it was a beautiful time, a beautiful experience. And I knew that if I played my best, that everything else would fall into place. I never thought that Philadelphia would pick me, or any team. But that’s just the way I like to think. I don’t like to be too confident, too cocky.

Before the combine, when and how did you find out you were going to be invited to participate? Was it a surprise or were you aware that it might be in the works?

Yeah, I was aware because my coach was pushing for it pretty hard and he got me in. And I’m forever thankful to him for that and if it wasn’t for my coach, I probably wouldn’t be the person or the player I am today. So I was kind of hoping for it but wasn’t sure, but when I got the invite I knew. It was surreal; it was a great moment.

[Redlands head coach Ralph Perez is a USSF staff coach and a former Los Angeles Galaxy assistant coach.]

A four-time all-conference selection, Marquez was named the 2013 SCIAC Player of the Year during his senior season.
(Photo: Univ. of Redlands Sports Information)

How did you feel going into the combine? Nervous? Confident? Did that change at all during the first day of training with the more heralded Division I players and international invitees?

Well, I was definitely nervous because I knew the speed of play was going to be a bit different and I knew I was going to be among the best players in the nation. But I talked to my coach beforehand, I talked to my parents, and they were able to calm me down. And I was more excited than anything. I was ready to get out there and play and just showcase myself as best I can. But, yeah, the nerves were definitely there, I’m not going to say I wasn’t nervous. I definitely had times when I was thinking “Wow, maybe I won’t be able to hang.” Until the first day there, and then I was, like, “Yeah, I can do this. I’m okay. Everything should be alright.”

Besides representing yourself and Redlands, did you in any way feel that you were also representing Division III? Was that on your mind as well that you wanted to put in a good showing for D-III?

Ohh yeah, of course. Yes, I definitely felt like I had to represent D-III soccer because I think that people think of us as underdogs. And I wouldn’t put it that way. I think we can hang with plenty of players from the higher divisions. And I’ve played against plenty of great, great forwards, and I know there are good players in D-III. And I was trying to represent D-III as best I could to show everyone that we do just as well.

You were a substitute on Gameday 1. When you finally got in the game, did you feel like you fit in with the level of player right from the start, or did feel like you needed that first game to get up to speed?

No, I felt good as soon as I stepped onto the field. I was right there with it and I felt confident coming out of that game. I was happy with my performance. I felt great, actually.

The next day between gamedays there were the physical tests and you did very well. You placed second in the vertical jump and fifth in the 30-meter sprint. Tell me a bit about that? Were you surprised you did that well among that group of athletes?

Yeah, I was definitely surprised. I knew there were plenty of great athletes. Everyone there is athletic. Everyone there is fast and can jump. So I just kept telling myself, “Alright, you just do your best. Take each test serious. Run as fast as you can, jump as high as you can, do whatever you can to boost your times.” Well, I did that, but I didn’t even know I did that well until the day after when people were telling me, and I was kind of in shock. I’m not going to lie, I was in shock that I did that well.

You already mentioned you felt good about your first game, but how did you feel about your performances throughout the whole combine? Getting drafted would seem to suggest that you made the most of the opportunity. Is that how you felt after the close of the combine—that you had done a good job of putting your best foot forwardl? Or were you thinking that you could have done better?

Well, I went about it like a normal game. I felt really good coming out of the combine, but I always thought I could do better. After each and every game I thought, “I can do better; I can raise my game.” After the three games, I was definitely content and happy with my play, but I knew that no matter what, I can always do better. That’s the thought that kept mixing in my head. But overall, yeah, I was happy with the way I performed.

As a Division III player, you come into the combine not really being on anybody's radar. And with so many good players it could be easy to get lost in the shuffle and end up merely being a footnote even if you played fairly well. Is there a specific play or sequence of plays that you feel may have been the turning point in getting the attention of the scouts? Or do you think the physical tests were what most got you on the radar and had people wanting to keep a closer eye on you during the games?

I would definitely say that the physical test got me some awareness. I think people started checking me out, thinking, “Okay, this is a defender and athletically he’s got some talent.” But also I felt really confident in my one-v-one defending at the combine. I don’t remember ever getting beat one-v-one. And I think that stands out a lot for a defender. But, yeah, I would definitely say that the performance tests helped me get looked at. It definitely showed a lot, and I think people started noticing me after that.

Marquez was a 2102 NSCAA Third Team All-American and a 2103 D3soccer.com Third Team All-American. 
(Photo: Univ. of Redlands Sports Information)

What are some of the things that you feel most prepared you to meet and rise to the challenge of the combine and catch the eye of the scouts. What do you think got you ready to do as well as you did?

I would say my coach, my assistant coach, and my strength and agility coach. They really pushed me to get there and believe in myself. And I worked hard right after the season because I was expecting to be there and I didn’t want to go out there feeling out of shape. So I was training right after the season ended. And I think a lot of it had to do mentally, and I think my coaches helped me out a lot in that aspect and made me feel confident, which was a huge, huge factor in the whole situation.

You touched on this earlier and I don’t want go too deep into the D-I vs. D-III debate, but how would you describe or measure, based on your experience at the combine, the jump from playing against Division III competition to the level of play at the combine amongst primarily Division I players?

I would say that the speed of play is definitely different—a little bit quicker. But I don’t know; maybe it’s because I’m biased for D-III and I love to represent D-III, but I feel just as confident going up against a D-III player and a D-I player. It doesn’t really matter to me. I just went out there and just tried to do my best. And that’s pretty much what it came out to. You know, D-I, D-III, no matter who it is, you just have to respect your opponent.

Well, let's end with a few lighter questions. Did you already have a favorite MLS team before being drafted by Philadelphia?

Yeah, I would say that I’m a LA Galaxy fan. But now I’m definitely a Philadelphia Union fan, for sure.

Are you a fan of any clubs from other countries? Any teams you especially follow?

Yeah, I would say I’m a Borussia Dortmund fan, and definitely a Manchester United fan, and a Real Madrid fan.

Who are your favorite players that you like to watch play? And is there any player that you most try to model your play after, maybe a central defender that you try to learn from?

Definitely. I can answer both those questions at once. My favorite player is Sergio Ramos. I’ve always tried to play just as well.  I try to evaulaute his game, and try to learn from him as much as I can. I think he’s one of the best defenders of his time. I think, yeah, definitely, watching him play gets me happy, gets me stoked. Maybe one day try to be just as good as him, but if not, you know, at least close to it. [chuckles].

I appreciate your time and wish you the best as you train with Philadelphia next week. We hope to keep up-to-date on you and your progress and wish you the best in trying to make the Union squad.

Thanks so much. I appreciate it.


Richie Marquez flies to Philadelphia on Friday morning, January 24 for preseason training with the Philadelphia Union. Players are to report to camp on Saturday, January 25 with training taking place from Monday through Friday, January 27 - 31 at YSC Sports in Wayne, PA outside Philadelphia. The following week training will move to the Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex in Deltona, Fla. with the first preseason game occurring on Saturday, February 8 versus the University of North Florida. D3soccer.com wishes Marquez all the best in his quest to earn a spot on the Philadelphia Union roster.

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.