In inking Angel, Chivas USA lock up face of the franchise

The Red-and-White sign the Colombian forward for another year

Juan Pablo Angel vs Toronto

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CARSON, Calif. – It took some time, but Juan Pablo Ángel will officially be returning to Chivas USA for the 2012 season. The club made the deal official on Thursday evening, inking the legendary forward to a one-year contract. According to league rules, terms were not released.

“Everything is sorted out,” Ángel told MLSsoccer.com after training on Friday. “I’m just looking forward to the start of the season and hopefully we begin on a good note.”

According to general manager Jose Domene, “administrative details” delayed the official announcement of Ángel’s return. But while those details were hammered out, the ever professional Colombian continued to train with the Rojiblancos throughout the preseason.

“We’re very happy that to have this done,” Domene said. “It’s not relief because we knew that he was committed – that’s why he’s been here all preseason. We’re sure that he’s going to have a great season with us just like last season when he came on board. He wants to stay and help us make a run to the playoffs and hopefully an MLS Cup.”

In his first full season with the Goats, the 36-year-old forward will be expected to pick up right where he left off in 2001. After arriving via trade from the LA Galaxy in midseason, Ángel netted seven goals in nine games for his new club. If Chivas are to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, they will need a similar output over the entire season.

But the veteran striker’s impact will not purely be felt on the field. In the locker room as he serves as a mentor to young forwards Casey Townsend and Cesar Romero.

“It’s very important to a guy with his experience and his leadership,” said Domene. “And now we have not just him, we have many of those guys so it’s very important to have him and guys like Alejandro [Moreno], Oswaldo Minda, Dan Kennedy, Heath Pearce.”

But for all the experience on the Rojiblancos, Ángel’s return assures them of another season with one of true faces of the emerging franchise.

“He’s definitely one of the faces because of who he is and because of what he brings to the organization,” Domene said. “He’s a superstar; he’s been a super star in other leagues and in Europe for quite some time. He’s an experienced player with great leadership and someone that anyone would want on their team.”

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com