No other player in MLS history has started off a season as quickly as the Galaxy’s Edson Buddle has in 2010.
That much, we know. We know about his seven goals through four games, while no other player in league history had scored more than six in the same span.
What we don’t know, however, is how much it all actually means to coach Bob Bradley and the U.S. National Team. His hot streak has pundits and U.S. supporters clamoring for Buddle’s inclusion on the World Cup roster, and injuries to the front line have all but justified the LA star’s ascension to the top international stage.
But while the opinions are coming in from all parts, at least one person says Buddle is not deserving of a spot.
And that’s Buddle himself.
“I would say I would deserve to… if I was in and out of camp and then all of the sudden I get hot, since it’s so close I would probably say yes,” Buddle said after training on Wednesday. “But right now, [the U.S. national team has] a chemistry already.”
Buddle’s record-setting pace has convinced many that he does indeed have things to offer for the U.S. He’s scored in the air, from long range, from impossible angles and with his speed. He’s also been pushed around, held, grabbed and knocked down by opposing defenders, and still managed at least a goal in each game.
“I don't think I’ve ever seen anything like it,” Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan said after Buddle’s two-goal effort in a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake last Saturday. “The goals are going in, but there's other chances in the game where he’s just missing. He’s getting pulled around like people wouldn’t believe. He’s getting fouled and hammered and he keeps going.”
But has his hot streak convinced Donovan that Buddle is worthy of going to camp, and fighting for a spot on the 23-man roster for South Africa?
“I always say you play the guy that’s playing the best at the time, period,” Donovan said. “You have the guys you rely on, but if guys are playing that way, those are the guys you want on the field.”
Bradley’s 30-man preliminary roster is due May 11, and the group will report to training camp at Princeton University on May 15.
“If this was a year ago, I probably would say that I would definitely say I would like to get called in if there was a camp coming in, but it’s too close,” Buddle said. “My main focus is Kansas City and doing the little things right in training every day.”
Still, Buddle’s not downplaying the chance to suit up for the Americans, especially after he had aspirations of making the 2006 World Cup squad.
“I wanted to be in the last World Cup. I was probably aiming for that and trying to get into camp but it was difficult,” Buddle said. “Sometimes you make a plan and it doesn’t work out. This one I really didn’t plan to go. I just kind of planned to do well here. This is my World Cup here. This is my World Cup team, the Galaxy, and things are working out well for me.”