Edson Buddle has such a golden touch these days that even when the ball doesn’t go the way he intends it to, the LA Galaxy still get a goal.
Buddle notched his first assist of the season after a ball got away from him, and he scored two goals on his own in the Galaxy’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union. His golden touch, he proved, is just as deadly in passing as it is with finishing.
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“His best play tonight was his assist,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Fabulous ball he laid across. Obviously A.J. [DeLaGarza] did a hell of a job getting into that position and finishing off the play.”
Not even one minute into the game, the Galaxy picked apart Philadelphia’s defense. Mike Stephens fed Buddle inside the penalty area. Being the league’s hottest goal scorer in 2010, Buddle thought of taking a look at goal but the ball had other ideas.
“Mike played a good ball and I actually wanted to take a touch at the goal but it kind of got away from me,” Buddle said. “It gave me some more time from my defender and I was able to look up and saw A.J. in front of his defender and as long as I put in a good cross in front of the goal, he put it into the back of the net.”
With the goal, DeLaGarza became the first player not named Buddle to score for the Galaxy this season. And while players weren’t necessarily concerned with getting someone else to score, having balance is certainly not a negative.
“For the most part he’s up there by himself and everyone is asked to do different things and try to get him the ball in good spots,” Landon Donovan said. “Everyone’s doing their part, all the pieces of the puzzle are fitting in well but it is nice to have somebody else on the scoreboard too and hopefully we keep that going.”
Buddle, though, got back to his scoring ways twice in the second half. In the 27th minute, Buddle got onto a rebound, tried and failed to score on a backheel, then tucked away the loose ball. He was mobbed by his teammates after the goal and one of his shoes came off. Buddle picked it up and pretended to make a phone call, a la a soccer-playing Maxwell Smart.
“It’s nothing that I planned so someone said to dial it like you’re dialing a number so I dialed a number and put it to my ear,” Buddle said.
His second goal came from distance, burying a ball past Chris Seitz at the stroke of halftime. Shortly afterward, Philadelphia’s Stefani Miglioranzi was sent off for a challenge from behind and the game was essentially over.
That Buddle scored two goals in a game might not be surprising. It was, after all, his fourth multi-goal game of the season. But overall, Buddle’s stellar performances this season have exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“Who would expect anyone to have nine goals in six games?” Arena asked. “We know he’s a very capable player, can certainly score goals. The combination of him and Landon has been excellent . . . Our team has been playing well in putting Edson in position to score goals but his finishing has been outstanding.”
Buddle is shockingly just six goals from his 2008 tally, when he notched 15 goals. He’s already nearly doubled his haul in 2009, when injuries limited him to just five goals.
And with his touch being what it is, teammates are looking for him more and more.
“His confidence is high, and then balls seem to find him in the right spots and then when they are finding him, he’s doing the right thing with it,” Donovan said. “When those three things are combined you’re going to be scoring a lot of goals.”