CARSON, Calif. – Juan Pablo Ángel’s blistering end to the 2011 season showed he has rediscovered his scoring touch. The matter of him discovering his future with Chivas USA is, however, not so straightforward.
Ángel is pleased with his performances for the Goats, as he proved his lethal predatory instincts are still present after enduring a frustrating start to the 2011 season while with the LA Galaxy.
“I have enjoyed my time here [at Chivas],” Ángel said on Saturday following Chivas USA's season-ending loss to Seattle. “It's been rewarding and it was good to finish scoring goals and get back to double figures again. For any striker, it's good to get to that mark so it was good for me to prove to myself that I could still do it.”
On the contractual side of things, Ángel has a one-year option that is still to be resolved. However, the Colombian is more than willing to mull it over with the Chivas USA front office.
“We'll sit down with ownership and look at it," said Ángel. “I truly enjoy the way that Robin [Fraser] plays, works. His training sessions were enjoyable and so were his tactics, but at the end of the day, you also want to see results over a long season; if the results aren't good, it's a different story.”
Ángel arrived from the Galaxy in August and promptly scored seven goals in nine games for Chivas, ending the year with a total of 10. With his double-digit tally, he joined Carlos Ruiz as the only other player in league history to have five consecutive double-digit goal seasons.
While his production was stellar, whether Ángel remains a member of Chivas next season depends heavily on his sizeable contract, which was paid primarily by the Galaxy after his trade. However, money and playing time are not the only issues for Ángel. He must also consider the needs of his family, who only moved to Southern California earlier this year.
“We came here with a plan to stay here longer so regardless of what happens, I think my family has enjoyed their time here,” Angel said. “Although it's been only four or five months since we arrived, the kids are settled and we're having a good time. At the end of the day though, we have to make the right decision for all of us.”
Time is, of course, ticking on the 36-year-old Ángel's career. Having played professionally since the age of 18 with stops off in Colombia, Argentina and England, the forward has enjoyed an illustrious career. Whenever he decides to step away from the game, he'll depart as one of the finest strikers in league history with 68 goals during his five-year stint in MLS.
But for Ángel, it's all about the level at which he feels he can contribute.
“The most important thing at my age is how you feel nightly," he said. "If you enjoy it and are having fun, then you can always push yourself a little harder to deal with the things that you deal with physically at my age. Physically, I've put myself in a decent shape throughout my career and, although I'm not 23 anymore, I know my limitations, but I also know that I can help if I'm used in the areas that I can have success.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org