Tuesday, May 3, 2011

No Flight In Angel's Wings

Juan Pablo Angel was supposed to have been the missing piece to the Galaxy's puzzle, the prolific scorer who would continue to blossom under Landon Donovan and David Beckham.

But as he prepares to face his former team, it looks like that team saw something the rest of the league hadn't quite expected.

Angel is slowing down.

Through eight games, Angel has all of one goal. At this rate, he will score four goals this season, which would be his worst production by far since joining MLS. Angel scored 13 goals for New York last year and had 58 regular-season goals before the Galaxy made him their third Designated Player.

Angel has yet to look comfortable since arriving in Carson.

On the second day of preseason, Angel fielded questions from the media and his demeanor was that of a newcomer - other players came off the field smiling and chatting with others presumably about their offseason antics. Angel looked like he was all business, not really talking with others, devoid of smiles and conversation. Three months later, Angel still gives off some of that same vibe. Most of the time I've seen him, Angel has walked off the training field alone. Since he's a DP, he's only made available to the media usually once a week so I haven't gotten the chance to talk with him as much as other players.

But when we do talk to him, he just talks. He's all business, doesn't chit-chat, doesn't joke around, at least not with or around us.

Now, it's probably tough to feel as if he's truly arrived when he doesn't have a place to live. Unless things have changed in the last two weeks, he still hasn't settled in anywhere and his family is still not with him. Being a family man myself, I can understand how difficult things would be if I were to live apart from my wife and children. They would be on my mind a lot, maybe even more on my mind than my work. And if I was living in a situation where it wasn't permanent, either in a hotel or with other people, it would probably carry over into my work as well.

Angel hasn't pointed to those things for anything, and I even asked him about his family and if that would make him feel more comfortable and still he said that that doesn't have much bearing to on-the-field stuff.

I don't know what the answer is when it comes to Angel. Clearly there is something amiss. The team's offense took off with him on the bench, scoring four goals in two games with him not on the field, and when he returned to the starting lineup against FC Dallas, the Galaxy reverted back to their early-season form of scoring one goal a game.

Maybe when Angel faces his former team on Saturday something will re-ignite within him. Maybe when he settles down, he'll truly be able to settle down.

Until then, his production will continue to be minimal and the team's offense will continue to suffer.

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