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Galaxy's Juan Pablo Angel has struggled to score goals

Angel, whom the Galaxy signed in January, has one goal in 520 minutes for L.A.

May 07, 2011|By Grahame L. Jones
  • Galaxy forward Juan Pablo Angel, left, reacts after a disallowed goal as New England defender AJ Soares moves him out of the box during their match in March.
Galaxy forward Juan Pablo Angel, left, reacts after a disallowed goal as… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)

David Beckham was trying to set the stage.

"He's a talented goal-scorer and he has been for many years," Beckham said. "Goal-scorers are the same. They get one, they get 10, 15.

"He works hard for the team, which is a good thing, and he creates goal-scoring opportunities for others."

It could have been Galaxy teammate Juan Pablo Angel that Beckham was talking about, but it wasn't. It was his friend and former foe from Manchester United-versus-Arsenal days, New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry.

Coming into Saturday night's Galaxy-New York game at Home Depot Center in Carson, Henry was in good form. The 33-year-old France '98 World Cup winner who took Angel's place as the Red Bulls' top striker had played six games in 2011 and had scored three goals and assisted on two others.

Even Angel has been impressed. Henry, he said in midweek, is "one of the best players of our generation and he's starting to play well."

Angel, on the other hand, has been finding things a bit more difficult since swapping the East Coast for the West. He has played 520 minutes in a Galaxy uniform and has scored only one goal.

That, needless to say, is considerably fewer than the Galaxy had expected to see him score, even by this early stage of the Major League Soccer season.

The grumblings of discontent are beginning to be heard among the fans, some of whom have questioned whether the January signing of the 35-year-old Angel, especially as a high-priced designated player, was a good one.

His career statistics would suggest that it is. After considerable success in Colombia, Argentina and England, Angel continued to deliver in MLS.

He scored 58 goals in 102 games for the Red Bulls in four seasons in New York and led them to the MLS title game in 2008, ironically in Carson, where the Columbus Crew prevailed and won the championship.

But since arriving in Los Angeles he has appeared to struggle. Coach Bruce Arena has suggested that the lingering effects of an injury might be part of the reason. Another part might be the time it takes to get accustomed to new players around him.

Whatever the reason, the goals are not coming and even the shots are not coming.

Ahead of Saturday night's match, Angel had played in eight games, starting five. But he had taken only nine shots and only three of them had been on target.

Clearly, Angel and his new teammates have yet to click. Not that Angel was worried about it.

"If I don't score and we win, I'll be extremely happy," he said of Saturday's game. "I'll always give up my own performance for the benefit of the team. It's been like that throughout my career. I know the expectations and what my responsibilities are, but I'll take a win any day.

Angel said that after a 4-1 loss at Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy had been focusing on tightening its defense.

"Now we're trying to concentrate on the attacking part of it," he said. "We know we've got to do better, to create more chances, to be more fluid on the last third of the field. That's what we're working on. It takes a little bit of time."

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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