Edson Buddle will be a marked man in Seattle. The 28-year-old striker and his nine goals head to Qwest Field on Saturday, and he will be difficult to contain in his current form.
Opinion on how to keep Buddle from scoring varies. Only two teams, Kansas City and Colorado, have been successful so far, but neither has a win to show for it. In the two matches where Buddle has kept off the score sheet, Los Angeles still has a 1-0-1 record.
Sounders FC defender James Riley said that Buddle’s versatility makes it difficult to form a game plan to stop him.
“He’s pretty dynamic,” Riley said. “He seems like he’s not into the game, but all it takes is three seconds where you don’t know where he is and he gets into good spots and they find him with the ball.”
Riley said the task of stopping the striker starts long before Buddle gets the ball. Seattle will hope to apply pressure in an attempt to keep Buddle’s teammates from getting him the ball in dangerous positions. The defender said his team is going to try to stifle passing lanes to Buddle as much as possible.
“We are going to try to limit service,” Riley said. “When he does get the ball, he’s going to have to work for every touch.”
Cutting off service means stopping Landon Donovan. Already the Galaxy’s leading assist man, the U.S. national team player has shown sides of regaining his scoring touch. During Los Angeles’ midweek match against the Rapids, he gave Colorado’s goal posts a stress test early with a well-struck near-miss.
A lion’s share of the responsibility for containing Donovan will likely fall to Seattle’s best defensive midfielder, Osvaldo Alonso.
“Obviously any forward lives off service and so we have got to make sure we cut those service lines and keep the ball from getting into him,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “A lot of the service comes from Landon Donovan, so we have got to contain Donovan.”
With Los Angeles playing its third match in eight days, fatigue may be a factor. However, Schmid dismissed those concerns. With an easy 3-1 win over expansion Philadelphia last Saturday, the Galaxy did not have to expend as much energy as they might have. Galaxy boss Bruce Arena proved that by deploying the same starting XI from the Philly game on Wednesday night against the Rapids.
With no mid-week match upcoming, Arena should give Buddle the chance to impress the US National Team scouts by adding on to his league-leading goal tally against Seattle. With Bob Bradley set to name his provisional roster of 30 on May 11, the Seattle match could be the last chance for Buddle to earn a call-up in advance of the World Cup. The final 23-man World Cup rosters are due on June 1, just 11 days before the U.S. opens against England.