CARSON, Calif. – Juan Pablo Ángel believes that he’s ready to return to action this week when Chivas USA take on the Philadelphia Union (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), and it’s not a moment too soon for the fiercely competitive forward.
Ángel has missed the Rojiblancos’ last five matches while recovering from concussion symptoms that first surfaced after the Colombian striker knocked heads with Portland Timbers defender Eric Brunner during a preseason match.
Following a long injury spell that saw the 36-year-old Colombian take part in only light training for several weeks, Ángel feels that he will “at least available for selection” against Philadelphia.
“I feel good. This week has been a good week and it’s the third day of full practice and I’ve been involved doing all the normal activities and so far so good,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
After several weeks of only participating in light training, which included preventing him from heading the ball, Ángel appeared to be his old self during Thursday’s session. During an intra-squad scrimmage he created several dangerous scoring opportunities while facing the Rojiblancos’ first-choice back four.
Ángel, however, has struggled a bit with all the restless moments involved with the injury and following the league’s concussion protocol.
“Oh my God, I honestly don’t remember a time in my career that I’ve been out for five or six weeks. I honestly believe that this is the first time in my [19 -year] career that I’ve been out for that long,” Ángel told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously, it’s one of those injuries that you have to make sure and it’s not just about the symptoms because you have to be very smart due to the consequences in the future. Hopefully I’ll have a full recovery and be back playing again.”
Ángel faces one last hurdle in his return to the field as the forward must be evaluated by club doctors on Friday to determine his final status for Saturday’s match against the Union. While Ángel’s return is still undetermined, head coach Robin Fraser is anticipating that his veteran striker will be available for selection on Saturday.
“So far so good, which is great,” Fraser said. “He’s been participating fully in training, looking dangerous and scoring goals. It’s definitely good to have him back in the mix.”
Although Ángel is eager to return to the field after his injury, the Colombian forward is ready to join an offense that has made strides while he has recovered.
“This is not a one-man team,” he said. “This about finding the right balance, we all knew that it was going to take a little bit of time, we still know that we’re not where we want to be, but when you get results especially like the ones that we’ve been getting on the road, it’s certainly a massive relief and a massive injection of confidence for us.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com