NEW ORLEANS – Day by day, LA Galaxy forward Edson Buddle is returning to full fitness and the next potential mark on his rehabilitation process could be an appearance in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match against the Puerto Rico Islanders.
Buddle was effective in a 12-minute stint during last Friday’s 2-0 LA victory over the Colorado Rapids, nearly tallying a goal in an active performance. While Buddle is hopeful that he can earn a start soon, he understands that his recovery will only be completed through a gradual process.
“Every day, I feel like my knee is getting stronger. Some days a little sorer than others, but each and every day I feel more comfortable on the field,” Buddle told reporters during a brief stop in New Orleans while the club’s charter plane refueled. “I’m getting used to the timing, getting used to everything. My knee is still not as strong as my left. I think that I have to keep strengthening it and work on my balance. It’ll all come together.”
The 32-year-old forward ‘s recovery has been a steady one with Buddle making a pair of Reserve League appearances while also playing 19 minutes in LA’s 4-0 win over the Islanders on August 29 before returning to league action a few days later against Vancouver. Following his latest stint last Friday, head coach Bruce Arena was full of optimism about his ability to return to form.
“He’s coming around. He’s looking like the old Edson,” Arena said. “I think that he’s past the injury and now it’s just the matter of getting him in form and his first touch a little bit better.”
The Galaxy may opt to give Buddle his next jaunt on Wednesday in the club’s return to Champions League play against the Islanders in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. The setting of the Estadio Juan Ramón Loubriel is sure to invoke more than a few memories for Buddle as he went 75 minutes—picking up a yellow card— in the club’s ill-fated match in 2010 that saw the Galaxy booted from the CCL in the Preliminary Round, despite a 2-1 road win.
“It was a tough game, we had to win,” said Buddle. “It was humid, the field was very bumpy and I know that it won’t be an easy place to play. I was surprised about how many people came out to watch the game so I’m expecting a good crowd.”
With a victory eliminating Puerto Rico from knock out round contention and inching the Galaxy closer to a berth in the quarterfinals, Buddle is well aware of the task at hand.
“Every win and every goal counts. You just want to win and advance,” said Buddle. “They have a lot to play for. I’m sure they remember the loss in LA so I’m sure that it’s going to be hard game…I know that it didn’t rub them the right way, us beating them 4-0.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@gmail.com