CARSON, Calif. – Upon returning to Southern California and re-joining the Los Angeles Galaxy, World Cup veteran Edson Buddle said he left South Africa with a bit of disappointment.
While Buddle did not play a major role in the USA's four World Cup matches, it was not his lack of playing time that made a negative impact on his experience but rather the way the Americans’ participation in the tournament ended.
“The worst part was probably not advancing, not going on further,” Buddle said after Galaxy training on Friday. “It was definitely an accomplishment to win the group. Bittersweet that we didn't advance [past the Round of 16]. I think we felt confident we had a good team and had a group of guys who could go a little further.”
Buddle did not start any of the US matches in South Africa. He played twice, coming on as a late substitute against England and playing for a longer stretch of time against Algeria. Major League Soccer’s hottest player said he felt he had made a strong case for more playing time.
Not only did he score nine goals in MLS before leaving for South Africa – a figure no other player has reached this season – but Buddle scored twice in the United States’ last World Cup warm-up, a 3-1 win over Australia on June 5.
Still, Buddle was not exactly second-guessing U.S. coach Bob Bradley’s decision to leave him on the bench.
“I definitely think I put some confidence in Bob, showed I can play and want to play. I thought I'd get more time, and it just didn't work out as well as I thought,” he said. “I couldn't really complain too much. As much as I like to compete, I didn't get the U.S. to the World Cup, I wasn't part of qualifying. I felt being there, definitely I could help as much as I can, but the guys that got him there… played.”
Buddle thrust himself onto the national team picture with what has been his most outstanding performance during his MLS career. Buddle set a Galaxy record by scoring the team’s first seven goals of the season and was a force throughout the first part of the season, scoring goals off set pieces, from long-range shots and setting up teammates for goals as well.
That he made it to the World Cup at all was an accomplishment which speaks well for him.
Buddle forever cemented that accomplishment by coming on against England and making his World Cup debut.
“I felt pretty good, had a lot of adrenaline,” Buddle said about his World Cup debut. “As a substitute, you bring some energy to the game. I just wanted to run around as much as possible, put some pressure on anyone … I definitely got to see a lot of the players that I've seen play on TV and see how I match up and how I size up in flesh, and realize just being in that environment will raise your career.”