Former New York Red Bulls midfielder Mike Magee has attacked the club's treatment of his LA Galaxy teammate Juan Pablo Ángel last season, calling it "bizarre." Ángel was the Red Bulls captain for more than three seasons but left New York at the end of the 2010 campaign after the club decided not to pick up its option for another year.
Magee played alongside the former Aston Villa striker for two seasons with the Red Bulls before he was traded to the Galaxy in early 2009, and Ángel rejoined Magee after LA picked him in the inaugural MLS Re-Entry Draft.
"If I have my facts right, I think they told him midway through the year that they weren’t going to pick up his option," said Magee. "First of all, it’s not right to tell someone that and he still scored double-digit goals. It’s really bizarre but … I’m not surprised."
We at Once A Metro love Juan Pablo Ángel as much as any Red Bulls fans do (I have a JPA #9 scarf that I still wear proudly), but Magee is taking a cheap shot here, and he's wrong. First of all, the Red Bulls put up with his frequent injuries and more frequent mediocre performances for six seasons, so he should not be complaining about the way this club treats its players.
More importantly, the Red Bulls were wholly within their rights to not pick up Ángel's option for the 2011 season. Even if he'd scored 25 goals, they gave him plenty of notice (although it would have been nice to tell the fans what was going on) and even though he was the captain, the club had the choice to go in a different direction. There's also no evidence to suggest that the club treats its playing staff poorly, so his
Of course, Ángel did not score 25 goals last season. He found the back of the net 12 times, including four times from the penalty spot. Most crucially, he only scored once in open play after July, leaving the Red Bulls to find scoring from other areas (most frequently Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere) during the final run-in to the playoffs. While he provided an aerial presence that New York seems to lack this season, Ángel plainly doesn't have the legs for a full season anymore, and we've seen that his replacement, Luke Rodgers, has been more than adequate so far.