Buddle hopes to have a big season

Losing a tooth in the process, Buddle scores winning goal in home opener

buddle_tooth

Photo Credit: 
Victor Decolongon

There never has been any question about Edson Buddle's ability to score goals. The veteran striker, entering his 10th MLS season and fourth with the LA Galaxy, had 73 of them through 206 career games entering the 2010 campaign.

Staying healthy, however, was another matter. Last season, for instance, he was limited to 19 games with the Galaxy because of a myriad of injuries and finished with only five goals. It was quite a disappointment after 2008, when he scored a career-high 15 goals and, with Landon Donovan, formed a lethal 1-2 scoring punch that helped make the Galaxy the top scoring team in MLS.

The 28-year-old, however, appears healthier than ever now. Tougher, too. Buddle had the only goal in the Galaxy's 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday at The Home Depot Center and lost part of a tooth in the process.

Buddle, who scored just five minutes into Saturday's game by heading in a perfectly placed free kick by Landon Donovan, caught an elbow from New England's Joseph Niouky in the 59th minute and felt part of a tooth had come loose. The team dentist put it back in place after the game and Buddle said he is good to go for Thursday's first edition of the Honda SuperClasico against Chivas USA.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder was on the ground for a few moments after Niouky nailed him, more to settle himself down than anything.

"I had to calm my nerves before I got up. I didn't take his number down,'' said Buddle, who also got his braces off about two weeks ago. "I felt the tooth loose. I was kind of (angry) about that more than anything.''

But he had plenty to be thankful for Saturday. He easily could have scored two more goals -- one in the 35th minute, when only the left foot of diving Revolution defender Kevin Alston denied him from deep in the penalty area, and again in the 79th minute by diving NewEngland goalkeeper Preston Burpo -- but he'll gladly take the one
goal he did score.

So will Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.

"He battled pretty hard,'' Arena said. "I think this could be a good year for him, and hopefully he stays healthy.''

Buddle, who scored two hat tricks during the Galaxy's unbeaten preseason, said he is determined to have a big season. He wants to do something else, too, and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with getting his name regularly in the scoring column.

"Staying healthy is one thing I want to do and maintain,'' he said. "Bruce has given me a little confidence, saying I'm going to be here, and that helps for a forward.

"Once I'm on the field and get opportunities I can put away my chances.''

His Galaxy teammates are well aware of the importance of finding a secondary scorer like Buddle to go along with Donovan. They said they can sense a definite determination to succeed on Buddle's part in 2010.

"He's definitely over his injury problems,'' Mike Magee said. "He hasn't had a single setback this whole preseason. Last year he had some nagging things and tried to play through them and had other problems. But he looks good now. "He's back ... he's a beast. I expect him to score every game.''