This Is The Los Angeles Galaxy: Juan Pablo Ángel

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IDecember 16, 2010

HARRISON, NJ - NOVEMBER 04:  Juan Pablo Angel #9 of the New York Red Bulls salutes the crowd after losing to the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 during the 2nd Leg of the MLS playoffs on November 4, 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

This is Part One in a series of players that will be joining the Los Angeles Galaxy this season.

When you walk into the hallowed grounds of Victoria Street and the Home Depot Center for a Los Angeles Galaxy home game, you will stumble upon three major groups of fans: the Los Ángeles Riot Squad, the Galaxians, and the Angel City Brigade.

Of course, for the latter, the "A" in "Angel" may need to have an accent mark painted on top from now on. And its legions may probably have to pronounce themselves as the "Ahn-hell City Brigade."

But why, do you ask? Why, oh why should there be changes such as this?

Well, here's why: sunshine. It's because the Los Angeles Galaxy will have forward Juan Pablo Ángel roaming the pitch next season.

Juan Pablo Ángel, you ask incredulously? The same Juan Pablo Ángel who used to be with the New York Red Bulls but didn't win much other than a conference crown and seasons of frustration?

Yes, that Juan Pablo Ángel. And so this Colombian international comes to Los Ángeles on a mission: to help the Galaxy not only defend their Supporters' Shield, but win something bigger by season's end.

Juan Pablo Ángel Arango was born on October 24, 1975 in Medellín, Colombia. Ah, Colombia: a land that was tainted not too long ago by one of its national players paying the price for an own goal with his life in Andres Escobar. And Medellín is not exactly the safest of places to live in, with drug cartels and violence all around, although December is a good time to visit the city.

Ángel, at the time of Escobar's slaying, was just beginning his footballing career with local giants Atlético Nacional. He played with Los Verdolagas from 1993 to 1997, scoring 45 goals in 147 appearances. That same year, in 1994, Ángel led Atlético Nacional to the league title with a game-winner over rival Independiente Medellín. The following season, Atlético Nacional won the Copa Interamericana.

After his four-year stint was over, Ángel took his skills to Argentine powerhouse club River Plate, where he played from 1998 to 2000.

During his time with Los Millonarios, Ángel scored 62 goals in 132 appearances as its fans donned wings at El Monumental to show their collective support. Ángel was a key part of River's Copa Libertadores efforts, with 16 goals in 25 matches. He also led the club to the 1997 Apertura, 1999 Apertura and 2000 Clausura crowns.

As the 2001 season began, Ángel turned to England, and the Villans of Birmingham's very own Aston Villa Football Club. The 2003-04 season was Ángel's most productive season to date with the Villans, where he scored 23 goals.

Ángel is the most recent player to score 20 in a season with the burgundy and blue. A fan favorite, he played for Aston Villa from 2001 to 2007, scoring 74 goals in 205 appearances—Good the second-most for the past two decades (Dwight Yorke tallied 97 goals in 288  career appearances).

On Apr. 17, 2007, the New York Red Bulls gave Ángel his first break in Major League Soccer. He would make his club debut on May 8, which ended up as a 3-1 defeat to what would later be his current club, the Los Ángeles Galaxy.

11 days later, Ángel scored his first MLS goal and assist in New York's 4-0 rout of the Columbus Crew. Ángel was voted MLS Player of the Month for May 2007, the first Red Bull to score in six straight games.

A selection for the 2007 MLS All-Star Game, he was named MVP of the Match for scoring the first goal of the MLS All-Stars' 2-0 rout of Celtic F.C. Ángel ended 2007 with a franchise-record 19 goals and five assists in 24 league matches (20 goals in 27 matches in all official competitions).

In spite of his nagging hamstring injuries, Ángel scored 14 goals in 23 league matches (16 goals in 28 matches in official competitions) during the 2008 season, which saw New York clinch the Western Conference Championship and participate in the MLS Cup, where they lost to the Columbus Crew.

2009 proved to be a trying year for Ángel, as the club's playoff hopes and CONCACAF Champions League aspirations went up in smoke. Nonetheless, on Sep. 26, 2009, his equalizer against Chivas USA made him the most prolific scorer in club history. Once again, he led the team in scoring with 12 goals in 25 league matches.

2010 was Juan Pablo Ángel's final season in New York, which saw the Red Bulls open their new stadium and earn the 2010 Eastern Conference regular season crown. That year, he finished as the team's top scorer with 13 goals in 30 regular season matches.

After the season was over, the club announced on Nov. 11 that Ángel would not be returning to the Red Bulls for the 2011 MLS season.

As a result of the club declining his contract option, Ángel participated in the 2010 MLS Re-Entry Draft. He would be picked fifth on Dec. 15, 2010 by the Los Ángeles Galaxy.

Now, as Juan Pablo Ángel prepares for his first season in Los Angeles, he will look to give the club its wings and soar to MLS Cup glory in 2011.

Juan Pablo Ángel. Los Angeles Galaxy. Maybe it does makes sense after all.


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