CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said he never had any doubts Juan Pablo Angel could fit in with his new team.
“If we did, we wouldn’t have brought him in,” Arena said.
Galaxy standout Landon Donovan also had no qualms about the former New York Red Bull.
“On the guy who’s scored more goals in our league over the last four years than anyone?” he said with a grin. “No. I was pretty excited when I found out he was coming.”
The Galaxy were hit hard by the announcement in early January that Edson Buddle, who scored a career-high 17 goals in 2010 and was named to the U.S. World Cup team, was signing with FC Ingolstadt in Germany.
Arena, however, had a plan to ease the disappointment of the loss.
It came to fruition in December when he selected Angel in the first round (fifth overall) of stage two of the MLS Re-Entry Draft Process and then signed him to a new contract in mid-January.
Angel had spent the previous four seasons in New York, where he scored more goals (58 in 102 career regular-season games) than anyone in MLS. Angel came to the league in 2007 and signed with the Red Bulls, who were then coached by Arena, and went on to become the club’s all-time leading scorer with 61 goals in all MLS competitions.
But now he is in Los Angeles and Angel, who turned 35 in October, is anxious to do his part to bring a championship to Southern California. The Galaxy, who open the regular season on Tuesday against Sounders FC in Seattle, have come close of late, having reached the 2009 MLS Cup final (where they lost to Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks) and last season’s Western Conference Championship.
Angel said he was thrilled with the chance to not only be reunited with his former coach – “It makes easier for you, someone that knows you and knows how to treat you,” he said -- but join what he called a first-class franchise.
“Arguably this is the best organization in the league,” he said.
“First of all, it was an honor to be contacted by them and by Bruce.
I’m delighted to be here, hoping this is going to be a good year for us, this organization and me individually.”
Arena said he already likes what he has seen from the former Colombian international.
“He’s done well,” Arena said. “He’s brought very good professionalism to our team.”
Angel, who figures to be lined up alongside another new addition, former Toronto FC standout Chad Barrett, said “there’s still a bit of work to be done” but he is growing more and more comfortable in his new surroundings and with his new teammates. Donovan said Angel gives the Galaxy “a dimension we haven’t had,” but Angel cautioned it will take time.
“So far it’s been good,” Angel said. “They have a good core of players here that have been together for a number of years. With David (Beckham) and Landon, they’re quality players and we have to play well as a team. It’s important as a unit we play well to help those players do what they’re good at it.
“Hopefully with the new additions we can adjust as soon as possible and contribute to what hopefully will be a good year for us. It’s going to be extremely busy with a lot of games and a number of competitions and we have to be ready for it.”
Join the Galaxy as they Countdown to Kickoff with a series of events and appearances for fans in the community. Galaxy players, staff, Miss LA Galaxy Court members and Galaxy Street Team will be active throughout the week engaging with fans, the public and media in order to thank them for their support and to raise awareness for the start of the 2011 MLS season. For the full schedule and and opportunities to meet the Galaxy players, visit www.lagalaxy.com/caravan.
Take your photo with the 2010 Supporters' Shield and 2009 Western Conference Championship Trophy on Tuesday, March 15 at Ye Olde King's Head before your LA Galaxy face the Seattle Sounders in MLS First Kick 2011 at 6:30 p.m. PT on ESPN/Deportes. Plus, opportunities to win tickets to the Galaxy home opener as well as an autographed jersey! MORE INFO
On Sunday, March 20, the Galaxy will host the New England Revolution in their home opener, presented by Pechanga Resort & Casino, at 5 p.m. at The Home Depot Center. The first 15,000 fans will receive 2011 magnet schedules. Tickets are available for that match, starting at $25. BUY NOW