It's not just last year's league MVP Luciano Emilio who's struggling to recapture the form of his MLS debut season. New York's Juan Pablo Angel, who ran Emilio close for the MVP award, has also tallied just one goal in 2008, while fighting off injuries and coping with a change in coaching philosophy.
"I haven't been able to play in all the games so far this year and right from the beginning I have been experiencing this problem with my back and my hamstring," Angel told Jack Bell. "Probably the last game [against Kansas City] was the best I have felt, which is a little encouraging for me because I am thinking that I am going now in the right direction trying to get pain-free for the rest of the season."
The emphasis on defense by a new coach, Angel's fellow Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio, has made goalscoring more difficult. "It is not that Angel or the rest of the team's offensive players, like Jozy Altidore, are somehow being minimized," writes Bell. "It is simply that Angel has often found himself as the team's de facto lone striker as Osorio loads the midfield." Angel said he feels "much more comfortable" when Claudio Reyna is in the midfield, but the captain has also, once again, been struggling with injuries this year.