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Galaxy expect big things out of healthy Buddle

Edson Buddle proved that, for three points, he would fight tooth and nail for a win, with an emphasis on the “tooth” part.

Buddle scored the game-winner in the Galaxy’s 1-0 triumph over New England. (CLICK HERE FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS.) Midway through the second half, Buddle met up with Pat Phelan’s elbow. The Revolution player knocked Buddle down and nearly knocked out some of his teeth.

Such things come with the territory.

“You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to win, you know?” Buddle said after the match.

After missing time in 2009 with an array of injuries, Buddle entered the 2010 season fully fit. The physical setbacks last season contributed to a drop in form and scoring, as Buddle went from 15 goals in 2008 to five in 2009.

Six minutes into the 2010 season, Buddle knocked in a header off a set piece and notched goal number one. It’s that kind of production that gives the team hope the old Buddle will resurface.

“That was a pretty good performance over 90 minutes. He battled pretty hard (Saturday) and had some pretty good moments, did a good job holding the ball up,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “This could be a good year for him. Hopefully he stays healthy.”

Quadriceps and toe injuries kept Buddle off the field for a good chunk of last season. And while loose teeth might knock some players out, team officials said Buddle will be available for Thursday’s game against Chivas USA.

Tooth issues are nothing new to Buddle, at least not this year. Just two weeks before the season started Buddle had braces removed. New England’s Phelan sent Buddle back to the dentist to get a splint placed on his teeth to help stabilize them.

The stability that Buddle had really been seeking was the knowledge that he was in the Galaxy’s long-term plans.

“Being settled with Bruce giving me a little confidence and saying that I’m going to be here,” Buddle said. "It really helps a forward."

And with players like Landon Donovan, Eddie Lewis and Juninho providing service this season, staying in the lineup will be enough for him to get his share of scoring chances.

“Staying healthy is one of the things I want to do to maintain and score goals,” Buddle said. “Once I’m on the field I’m able to get opportunities and then it’s up to me to put away my chances.”