MLS- New York Red Bulls

Juan Pablo Angel discusses his future, reaching MLS Cup and the second DP slot

Juan Pablo Angel (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                                 Photo by ISIphotos.com

As the steady flow of fans walked up to Juan Pablo Angel at an autograph signing session at Premier Soccer Shop in Hoboken, you could see a player enjoying the off-season. Sporting a beard and his trademark smile, Angel greeted his fans as he stole peaks of the big-screen TV showing Jozy Altidore play in Spain.

Angel's demeanor went from relaxed to clearly excited when asked about the Red Bulls and their prospects going forward into 2009. In an exclusive interview with SBI, Angel sounded like a man intent on returning to the Red Bulls in 2009 and one who sources say wants to stay with the club beyond 2009.

When asked about his future with the Red Bulls, Angel reiterated the same comments he made after the Red Bulls' MLS Cup loss to Columbus, that he would like to come back but that it would remain to be seen what exactly would happen. He would not discuss the details of his contract, offering only a "We'll see" when pressed on what he thought would happen (Team sources have told SBI that Angel is under contract for the 2009 season and is expected to play.)

"We have to sit down and see what the team's plans are," Angel said. "I've enjoyed my time here, but as a professional you never know what will come or what the club's plans are, so we will see."

Angel's non-committal statements aside, hesounded like a player focused on 2009, stressing the positives of last season and the potential impact of the team's surprising playoff run. If he is planning on leaving MLS any time soon, Angel sure didn't sound like it.

"We were able to do very good things as a group and there is a chance now to build on that," said Angel . "We have players, but the club knows what needs to be done. We need to strengthen the club and put it in a situation where it can succeed every year, and not just get to the final one year and then not make the playoffs the next year."

Sources close to Angel tell SBI that the 33-year-old Colombian striker is actually seeking an extension beyond 2009 and would like to finish his career with the Red Bulls. It remains unclear whether the Red Bulls are strongly considering the extension, but it would be hard to argue against giving a long-term contract to a player who has scored 33 goals in two seasons and essentially carried the Red Bulls into the playoffs this year with an amazing second half of the season.

Angel also addressed rumors about his injury status during the playoffs, admitting that he played the Western Conference final and MLS Cup final with a hip injury that limited him. The Red Bulls did not disclose the injury at the time, but it did affect Angel's ability to play his best.

"I was injured, but it wasn't something that was going to keep me from playing," Angel said. "With each week, as we kept on winning, it makes you fight that much harder and want to be on the field.

"It wasn't easy getting of bed," Angel said when asked how he felt after the season."

As for the subject of the Red Bulls' second designated player slot, which head coach Juan Carlos Osorio admitted last week that he would prefer to trade, Angel agreed with Osorio's assessment and believes the club would be better served by dealing the slot for multiple reinforcements.

"The team has more needs than one player can help," Angel said. "If you look at the successful teams in this league they are teams with good depth and if you can make a trade to bring in a few players who can help then I think that can do more for a team then bringing in just one player."

Whether the team trades the DP slot or not, Angel just wants the 2009 Red Bulls to be a team that can improve on a 2008 season filled with adversity, but one that ended with a magical run to the MLS Cup final.

"When you make it to a final, it is an experience you want to have over and over," Angel said. "Hopefully after making it this year, the experience will motivate our team and our players to want to make it a habit, and not something that only happens once."

  • Tim F.

    Angel’s the best! Hope we can get him a center attacking midfielder and another impact forward along with Kandji in 2009.


  • THE Nick

    This guy is class. We shouldn’t sign him past 09 yet because that’s when the DP slots are up, but hopefully we can work something out to keep him until he hangs them up.

    I think he’s due for an MVP 20+ goal plus season next year.


  • Supsam

    Im not a RBNY fan but i do observe alot of thier games but i fail to understand RBNY fans biasness toward Kandji. I fail to see whats so great about him. He was so hyped up when NY signed him on loan but from all the playing time he got, he seemed rather inconsistent. Well maybe he just needs time to adjust to MLS. This offseason + next season will show what Kandji is capable of


  • Supsam

    As for Angel, i agree. He is a pure class player. Despite being a quakes fan, im a fan of Angel for sure.


  • Charlie N.

    Ives; stellar work as always. RB has to keep Angel and build around him, and depth seems to be crucial with the additional games to be played next year. As Tim F. said above- an attacking mid would be a great help. That being said RB is making a mistake in spending 200K of cap money on Petravallio(sp?). Rojas, stammler, sinisa,sassano, can all play central, and put VDB out wide (another signing they NEED to complete). looking forward to a great 09…


  • Paul

    Angel is a true professional. He understands how to be at all times, on and off the pitch. RBNY are lucky to have him.


  • northzax

    I would think it would be fairly easy to keep Angel for a few more seasons, he’s still a great mls player, but probably wouldn’t see much of the pitch in many other leagues. Plus, is he going to retire an move back to Colombia? I’d like to see him spend the offseason working on his coaching badges, he has the respect and leadership to be a nice manager, especially starting in mls (or even usl to earn some more chops)


  • silent e

    northzax, I had the same thought as I read Angel’s comments. “Future coach…” I said to myself.


  • cb

    Angel is top notch! We need to keep him and show him the money, not only because he’s the best striker in MLS, but also because he’s a strong role model to the other players. This is what a top professional is like.

    Thanks for the inside info, Ives. I wondered if Angel was injured during the playoffs as he wasn’t his dangerous self.

    I agree about the DP slot: trade for 3 starters – including a quality CAM. (Pietrovallo is hogging salary cap space, too!)


  • lou

    Supsam, you have no idea what you are talking about. Kandji did not get any playing time at all. In the few games he did play, he managed to leave a profound mark on the game. He had an assist within 10 minutes of being brought in. He has all the pace a player could want, coupled with talented ball handling skills. How can the fans of the red bulls not be excited about brining the best player from the usl into the squad. He defintely needs more time to adjust but he never really was given a true shot yet because osario finally decided to stop tinkering with lineups that worked.


  • 505anthony

    It would be criminal not to offer him an extension at RBNY. I think he’s as much an asset in the locker room and on the training ground as he is on the pitch.

    Any news on VdB?


  • Cindy

    must agree, Angel is pure class and would make a great diplomat 😉 i’m excited that he’s got RBNY in his future plans!


  • PolishPete

    Macumba played in 7 games avg. 40min ..scored 1 goal and had 2 assist.

    Looks so dangerous on the side ,just give him time to adjust ,and he will be a star of this league .


  • Joeking

    Angle has played in many leagues around the world… I’de be interested to hear his opinion on the playoffs and the structure of MLS. He seems to enjoy the league a lot if he wants to finish his career here.


  • Tonino

    Hw would be a GREAT diplomat for MLS and the RBNY. He should be EVERYWHERE. Put the guy in commercials. ALso RB needs to work on getting a center mid to feed the goal hungry Angel. That and keeping VDB should be a top priority.


  • Cubillas

    I do agree with you, Lou. I will have to add that Kandji and Mbuta together give the Red Bulls a different dimension that I immediatley noticed on the game against Colorado Rapids. Unfortunately, our backside couldn’t keep it together. There is promise on this coming year, let’s see if we capitalize on our potential.


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