Thursday, December 16, 2010

Angel Lands in La-La Land

The inaugural MLS re-entry draft concluded Wednesday, with a total of 13 players taken over the two rounds - two in phase one on December 8 and another 11 yesterday in phase two.  For the most part, it was a non-event for the Red Bulls.  The biggest news for RBNY fans is that Juan Pablo Angel was selected by the Los Angeles Galaxy, but we already knew he was leaving.  It was just a question of where he would end up, and I suppose LA is a damn sight better than Philly or DC.  It's now up to the Galaxy to negotiate a deal with Angel, and Bruce Arena has confirmed that it would likely be a designated player contract, with an eye toward pairing Angel with Edson Buddle up front.

What this means for the remainder of LA's roster is anyone's guess.  Could we finally see Landon Donovan leave for the English Premier League for good? Or will the Galaxy be able to squeeze everyone in under the cap, hold on to their three DPs and still field a competitive team?  Remember, they did dump some fairly large contracts at the end of the season, including Dema Kovalenko and Chris Klein, so it's not inconceivable that they could manage to keep all or most of the parts of their Supporters Shield winning side from last season.  Still, that's a lot of age in the squad, especially when you consider that they also acquired Frankie Hejduk's rights yesterday, while jettisoning young striker and academy product Tristan Bowen.  Clearly the mandate in LA is to win now - and lift an MLS Cup before David Beckham rides off into the sunset.

The other Red Bull lost in the re-entry process was Luke Sassano, a versatile player with limited skill who featured extensively under Juan Carlos Osorio but found himself in Hans Backe's doghouse after a road defeat in San Jose, when he collected a first half red card.  Sassano was originally selected by the Galaxy yesterday, then was shipped to Kansas City for Hejduk's rights.  So that will be two new stadiums in two years for Luke.  Best of luck to him.

As for Angel, he recorded a message of thanks to RBNY fans, which you can view here.  From the moment he arrived in New York, Juan Pablo showed nothing but the highest levels of professionalism, class and dignity.  I think it's fair to say that he's the best Red Bull we've ever seen and quite possibly the best player to have ever worn the shirt over the entire history of the franchise.  More importantly, he has been a genuinely good human being and has always understood the importance of the bond between fans and the club.  He'll always be warmly welcomed at Red Bull Arena, and hopefully we'll get the chance to see him suit up for the Galaxy next season when they make their annual visit.

Thanks for all the memories, Juan Pablo!

Now, on to next season. The Red Bulls have yet to make anything official. Will we see an announcement or two before Christmas?  Stay tuned.
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