After return, Chivas USA's Angel now seeks his swagger
CARSON, Calif. – Juan Pablo Ángel may have conquered the injury bug, but now he faces another challenge: regaining the form that made of one of the most prolific forwards in MLS.
Ángel made his return to the field last Saturday after a five-game injury layoff, going 27 minutes for Chivas USA in their 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union. After missing five games due to concussion symptoms, Ángel displayed his trademark nose for goal with several intelligent runs, but something was missing: his final touch.
The 36-year-old forward missed several chances on net, including the club’s best scoring opportunity, a failed header off a pinpoint cross by Miller Bolaños in the 65th minute that appeared destined for the back of the net.
WATCH: Ángel skips chance wide
Although Ángel was unable to get on the score sheet, he was incredibly pleased to return to action.
“It was great, I’m still trying to get minutes and pick up the tempo of the game,” he said. “I’ve been away six weeks and I came into a game that was at a high pace, but I’m delighted to be back.”
In an effort to get more minutes on the field, Ángel was back at it two days later for Chivas in Reserve League play against the Sounders. Whereas Ángel appeared rusty against the Union, he was dynamic with the reserves, making dangerous runs and scoring a penalty late in the first half.
Chivas head coach Robin Fraser admitted that the only way for the veteran to return to the Ángel of old is with more minutes on the field.
“The more he plays, the better he's going to get," Fraser said. "He’s been out awhile and it’s good to get him into a real competition. [Against Seattle I saw] sharp movement, good ideas on the ball, good timing of runs. It was important that he gets some more game minutes. Game minutes means you have to make game-speed decisions, and I thought that a lot of times today his decisions were good.”
Although Ángel shined during the reserve league play on Monday, his teammates know that the veteran Colombian will not stop working until he’s back to his fullest capabilities with the Rojiblancos’ first team.
“He'll be back to his old self soon, I'm sure,” rookie forward Casey Townsend said. “You can tell he's getting the swagger back a little bit.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.