UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – New York striker Juan Pablo Angel said definitively for the first time on Thursday that he will not be back with the Red Bulls following the 2010 postseason.
“I know that I won't be a part of this team next year,” Ángel said following a training session. “For a fact."
The comment comes just two days after the Red Bulls Designated Player offered up an ambigious quote about his future while providing studio analysis for ESPN’s coverage of the USA vs. Colombia friendly on Tuesday night. When asked by ESPN commentator Alexi Lalas if he would return to New York next season, Ángel said, "I probably won't."
Ángel is the team's all-time leading goal scorer and is tied for third in the league with 13 goals this season. Last week, Red Bulls sporting director Erik Solér commented to the media that he would not discuss a contract extension with Ángel, one of the team’s three DPs, until the season is over.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe was similarly unwilling to discuss Ángel’s contract situation.
“After the season, I will do that,” Backe said.
Ángel said he understands that it is a business decision and that “it is part of the sport.” Despite the distraction and the pending closing to his career in New York, the Colombian said he plans to go out on top.
“When I first came here, I promised I’d commit myself [to the Red Bulls],” Ángel said. “I want to give my best for a chance to walk out of here with an MLS championship.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012