Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena criticized star striker Juan Pablo Angel following Saturday's first-leg playoff clash with the New England Revolution, telling reporters the Colombian "could have done a better job of making himself available" during the 0-0 draw. Despite having the majority of possession, New York had a hard time creating meaningful chances -- Angel certainly didn't have many memorable opportunities in front of goal.
Yahoo Sports' Martin Rogers warns that Arena's frank assessment of Angel's performance could have a detrimental affect on the player's psyche heading into Saturday's return leg at Gillette Stadium. Rogers says that "Angel responds best to subtlety, and he will not appreciate having his play questioned in a public forum." A little digging into Angel's past shows that the Colombian has suffered before from a loss of confidence. Rogers points to Angel's up-and-down form at Aston Villa. During the 2003-04 Premier League season, Angel was one of Europe's top scorers, but once manager David O'Leary made it clear he wanted greater competition for places up front, Angel's confidence flagged and he only managed seven league goals the following year.
That said, one indifferent performance shouldn't affect Angel too badly. It should also be noted that one of the keys for New England at the Meadowlands was cutting off his supply line, which Revs coach Steve Nicol noted his team achieved admirably. "If you limit service, you take [Angel] out of the game," Nicol said. "We were absolutely committed defensively."