CARSON, Calif. – In what has already been a memorable year for Edson Buddle, the LA Galaxy forward received another individual honor on the eve of the MLS Cup playoffs.
On Wednesday, Buddle was selected as a finalist for the Volkswagen Most Valuable Player award, the first time in his career he’s been up for the honor.
Though he led the Galaxy with a career-high 17 goals and was an instrumental part of the team, he was nevertheless surprised by the nomination.
“I didn’t expect it. I still don’t believe I’m one of the finalists,” Buddle said after training on Thursday. “It wasn’t one of my main goals. My goal was to play well and this is what happened.”
Buddle faces some strong competition for the honor. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski — who snatched the Golden Boot trophy from Buddle after scoring four goals in the season’s final week — and FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira are the other finalists.
The winner will be announced on Nov. 19.
Aside from his 17 goals, another statistic in favor of Buddle: The Galaxy were 11-1-1 in games in which Buddle scored a goal, and were 4-5-3 when he played but did not score.
Adding an MVP trophy to go along with his career-high total of goals, not to mention being named to the World Cup squad, would be something else for his loved ones to revel in.
“It would be great. My family would be very proud,” he said. “It doesn’t stop there. I still want to play some good quality soccer the rest of my career.”
That he was named an MVP finalist in a year where there were many strong individual performances speaks well of Buddle.
“That’s great,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said of Buddle’s nomination. “This is a year where there were other players that could have been nominated for those awards. It’s been a real good year for the league. The three candidates in all those awards are outstanding choices.”
Buddle has at least one former league MVP pulling for him.
“I hope he wins,” said Landon Donovan, who won the award in 2009. “If not, you don’t take anything away from what he’s done. I think he’d tell you he’d rather win MLS Cup than the MVP, but he’s fully deserving.”
Claiming the trophy this year will be difficult for any of the three finalists, Donovan said. Wondolowski led the league with 18 goals – more than half of his team’s total goals this season – while Ferreira finished with eight goals and 13 assists.
“You can argue it from all standpoints,” Donovan said. “They’ve been most valuable in the league, I would say all of them have been most valuable to their team’s success this year, clearly in Wondolowski’s case. They're all good candidates and any one of them deserve it.”
Buddle was joined in the postseason nominations by a pair of teammates. Omar Gonzalez is up for Defender of the Year while Donovan Ricketts is a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year.
For Buddle, though, the most important thing right now is what happens on the field.
“My main concern is getting back to the final,” he said. “It’s an honor. I’m thankful and we’ll see what happens.”
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