This was the game where it all came full circle.
When Bruce Arena used one of his two Designated Player spots in the 2007 season he brought over Juan Pablo Angel from Aston Villa of the English Premiership and right away, the Colombian striker paid dividends.
On Wednesday, May 23rd Angel came back to the stadium he helped open two years ago, this time with Chivas USA. Angel got a tally and nearly three points for his current team. After a scoreless first half Angel made magic in the 47th minute as converted his chance.
At the far Corner Blair Gaven crossed a high ball that found Rauwshan McKenzie, who headed it back into the middle. Out of nowhere Angel turned back the clock and delivered a mid air scissors kick and scored his second of the season. Angel displayed his professionalism by forgoing a celebration after the goal.
But the Red Bulls needed to keep their winning streak alive, and they equalized in the 56th minute when Brandon Barklage made a quick move and sprung Dane Richards down the near side. Kenny Cooper hustled towards the net and finished Richards’ cross for his 11th of the season, tying with Chris Wondolowski for the League lead.
After Cooper’s equalizer the Red Bulls pressed for a second to take the lead. Dan Kennedy was bombarded with shots, but the upstart keeper made all the saves to keep the match tied and grab Chivas USA a point from Red Bull Arena.
“I’m quite pleased, but we should’ve won this game.” Said Hans Backe, “The way we dictated the game in the second half, was much better. We had our chances, but didn’t take them. However I am pleased with the performance.”
Just as warm ups were about to end Angel looked towards the South Wards and applauded them as to say thank you for the years he was with the Red Bulls. During the MLS anthem as both sides were walking to the pitch, two big banners were unfurled by the three supporters clubs.
One was a giant facial image of Angel and the other was a picture of Angel’s Red Bull Jersey with the characteristic #9 with his name on top. Angel continues to applaud the South Ward for their tributes. During the 9th minute of the match the final tribute came when the supporters chanted “There’s only Juan Pablo Angel”.
“You know that people remember you, it’s because they appreciate what you did for them, for the organization, and for the club.” Said Angel, “For me, it meant everything. I will always be grateful for these supporters, for this club, for giving me the opportunity to express myself for a few years. I feel great. And the banner…I wasn’t expecting it. For me it was very emotional.”
For the Red Bulls their five game winning streak has now become a six game unbeaten streak, but next week starts their US Open Cup run down at Blackbaud Stadium against the Charleston Battery. What lineup will Hans Backe put out against the USL Pro side? We will find out on Tuesday.