Buddle gets the call

With an MLS-best nine goals this season, Galaxy forward Edson Buddle is named to 23-man U.S. ro

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Photo Credit: 
German Alegria

The LA Galaxy's Edson Buddle had just finished a team meal after the
U.S. National Team's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic on Tuesday in an
international friendly in Hartford, Conn., when he and his teammates were told
to come to a meeting.

It was about 2:30 in the morning
East Coast time when the 29-year-old got the news: he was heading to next
month's World Cup.

"I'm pretty tired," Buddle
said by phone on Wednesday when asked if he had gotten much sleep. "It
really hasn't sunk in yet, but I'm sure it will."

The announcement, made official on
Wednesday morning in front of a national television audience, capped a stunning
turnaround for Buddle, who came from virtually nowhere to earn a spot on the
squad that will compete in South
Africa. Coming into camp with the National
Team earlier this month, he had just one cap to his credit, a 10-minute stint
during a 2003 friendly against Venezuela
in Seattle, and
was not even in the picture as recently as the start of the MLS season in
March. But a sizzling start to the 2010 season saw him score nine goals in the
Galaxy’s first six games, including four multi-goal games, and positioned him
for a dream National Team recall, more than seven years after his debut with
the Red, White and Blue.

Buddle always could score goals --
he is the 10th-leading scorer in league history with 82 goals -- but mostly had
been known for a string of injuries throughout a 10-year career that began with
the Columbus Crew in 2001.

He had his best season as a
professional in 2008, when he scored a career-high 15 goals for the Galaxy -- third
in the league behind Landon Donovan's 20 -- but he slumped to just five goals
last season and missed 11 games because of various injuries. His string of
misfortune, however, vanished once the 2010 season began and U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley brought him
into training camp in Princeton,
N.J.

Buddle said he arrived at camp
believing his chances to make the team were as good as those of anyone, and his
45 minutes of playing time in Tuesday's friendly -- including several stitches
in his lip from a first-half collision -- strengthened his resolve.

"Just being here I thought I
had a chance," he said. "They (coaches) believed in me and called me in.
After last night, I felt pretty good about it."    

The first person he told was his
father, Winston, who drove up from New
Rochelle, N.Y., to
attend the game. He said he hasn't called too many others, but he has received
plenty of congratulatory calls.

Donovan, his Galaxy teammate, told
him he was especially proud of him.

Buddle and his teammates on
Wednesday were en route to Washington, D.C., where they will meet with President Obama at the
White House on Thursday before heading off to Philadelphia
for Saturday's friendly against Turkey.
Then it's off to South Africa
on Sunday with the rest of the U.S.
delegation to prepare for their June 12 World Cup opener against England.

Buddle admitted making the team is a
little hard to believe at this point.

"I've had some crazy dreams,
and this is probably one of them," he said. "And it's come true. It's
a blessing and I'm proud to be here."

He also said making the sacrifices
to get to this point was worth it.

"It sure does," he said.
"It feels good. That's life in general, it's all about persevering through
challenges."