On the pending departure of Juan Pablo Angel
September 29, 2010
From the trade of Giovanni Savarese, to the transfer of Michael Bradley, to the trade of Dave van den Bergh, Metro history is full of idiotic moves. Moves that from the onset seemed retarded, and proved to be disastrous.
The pending dumping of Juan Pablo Angel just might trump them all.
Oh, there is no secret about it; Angel himself has said as much. "If I have to move on, I will move on." He is talking about his tenure in past tense. The writing is on the wall.
Why? For the love of God, why is Red Bull brass so eager to push Angel out of the door?
Since he got here in 2007, Angel has been everything ever expected -- and more. His 61 goals in all competitions have dwarfed the previous team record. He has been a leader on the field, and a consummate professional off it. He is the team captain. He is one of MLS's biggest stars. Red Bull has made him the face of this franchise. Juan Pablo Angel is Red Bull New York. (Juan Pablo Angel is Metro.)
All this while dealing with a sea of changes, from an ever-changing coaching staff to the always-revolving door of not-always-competent players. For three seasons on knee-killing FieldTurf to in-game tackles by MLS hacks who want to add Angel's scalp to their collection. All this while playing -- until this year -- in a cavernous stadium in front of an indifferent fan base.
And now, it all seems to be coming together. Red Bull Arena is a gem, the fans are packing it, the fans care, and Angel is scoring as he always is -- but somehow that is not enough for the RBNY brass.
He has 13 goals this season -- second best in the league. Not good enough. He has 25 goals last two seasons -- third best in the league. Not good enough. Take it back four years, he has 13 more goals than the next closest competitor. Not good enough. Then, dare we say, what's good enough?
Oh, we get it. The RBNY brass sees the star power of Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez and wants more, more, and more. After all, Angel is taking up the last Designated Player slot, and with that, they can sign... oh, we don't know. Someone great. Someone incredible. Someone who will be hard-pressed to match Angel's numbers. Hell, Henry, since he came on board, has not exactly outscored Angel.
Oh, we get it. Angel is getting older. He is not the player that he was in 2007. Fine. But even at that, he is still one of the best players in MLS. His production the last three seasons has been incredibly consistent -- 14 league goals, 12, then 13. Who says he will slow down next year?
Oh, we get it. Angel is not exactly Hans Backe's favorite type of striker. "Clever" Hans wants speed to pair up to with Henry, and Angel is not exactly a speed demon. And he didn't pick Angel, he inherited him. Fine. But something is to be said about building the system around your best players, not dumping your best players so that the system can be fitted (somewhere, Juan Carlos Osorio is shaking his head).
Oh, we get it...
Wait. No, we don't get it. We just don't.