CARSON, Calif. — After weeks of near-misses, Juan Pablo Ángel finally found his mark.
Ángel scored his second goal of the season in the LA Galaxy’s 4-1 win over Sporting KC on Saturday, snapping an eight-game goal-less skid. Any worries or questions about the Colombian striker, though, came from others, he said following the win.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Ángel said of his slow start to his Galaxy career. “I wish I could have gotten off to a better start in the first eight to 10 games, but I wasn’t concerned at all. It takes a little bit of time to adjust, for people to get to know you, for you to get the rhythm going and it’s a long season.”
WATCH: Ángel breaks his slump in grand style
Ángel was brought in over the winter and was expected to replace Edson Buddle, who bolted for FC Ingolstadt in the offseason, and account for his team-high 17 goals from 2010. Statistically, though, Ángel’s start was the exact opposite from the the departed striker. Buddle scored nine goals in the Galaxy’s first six games last year; Ángel sat on one goal through LA’s first 11 games of 2011.
But in the 61st minute on Saturday, Ángel broke past Sporting KC’s back line and easily beat ‘keeper Eric Kronberg to score his first goal since March 26, and his first goal in a Galaxy uniform at the Home Depot Center.
For the 35-year-old veteran, it was the culmination of several weeks of hard work.
“I’ve been feeling really well, the last couple of games in particular, against New York and against Philadelphia I’ve been feeling really, really well,” said Ángel, who did not start Saturday’s game. “I knew it was just a matter of time.”
Ángel has now scored 60 career regular-season goals in MLS. While he was stuck on 59 for nearly two months, he was not simply taking up space on the field.
“He’s a guy who has a made a living off scoring goals so it helps confidence wise,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “He’s been playing really well the last few games and he’s done a good job of getting all his teammates involved.”
Signs that Ángel has adjusted to his new teammates, a new system and a new club have been revealing themselves in those recent games despite him not scoring a goal. He has been connecting with his teammates more in recent weeks — his lone assist of the season came on April 23 against Portland, and he was involved in the Galaxy’s only goal against Philadelphia on May 11.
Now that he’s found the back of the net, though, more goals could follow.
“We’re all happy to see him score,” Donovan said. “You can tell the last couple of weeks you’re seeing the Juan Pablo of old, that we’re used to and I think he’s about to hit his stride.”