Edson Buddle is back for a third go-round with the LA Galaxy, and the veteran forward has his sights set on once again becoming a major contributor for the club.
Buddle signed with the Galaxy for a third time late last week after a successful preseason trial with the defending MLS Cup champions. The 33-year-old returns to LA after spending two mostly unproductive seasons with the Colorado Rapids that saw Buddle score just seven goals in 42 regular season appearances.
After enduring two lean years in Colorado, Buddle is all smiles about a return to the Galaxy.
“It feels so great. I thought about [returning to the Galaxy] so much that it came true. I knew that it would happen, but to finalize it feels good. The weather and the people here are great,” said Buddle. “From the players to the front office, they buy into the organization. They know that it takes a team effort to get everything done, and to my understanding, there will be a lot of call-ups and I’ll be able to start or come off the bench due to injury. I just need to be ready for everything.”
Buddle returns to StubHub Center, not only hungry to regain the form that made him the Galaxy’s leading goal scorer in 2010, but also as a wiser player after time with young Rapids side.
“[The trial] was a matter of seeing if I had all my screws together. [Bruce Arena] wanted to make sure that I didn’t have any lingering injuries,” Buddle said. “I didn’t play a lot last year due to all the consecutive losses in Colorado. I think that it was a thing where [the Colorado coaching staff] had a young group and they wanted that group to go through the trenches to get some experience in a bad situation.
“The learning experience that I gained in Colorado was important. I learned that you need a balance to develop a team, and why Bruce likes his veterans,” he later added. “I was able to pass that on to players [in Colorado] and now hopefully they’ll see what I was saying.”
Buddle joins a strike corps that has no shortage of talent including MLS Most Valuable Player Robbie Keane, emerging star Gyasi Zardes and super sub Alan Gordon.
Given the congested schedule that lays ahead for the club in 2015, which will comprise matches in the CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup in addition to regular season games, Arena felt the addition of Buddle was an easy one.
“He’s scored over 100 goals in this league, and he’s got some years left in him,” said Arena. “We have to have depth at that position with Keane, Zardes, Gordon, and possibly [Jose] Villarreal in that spot, we have some options now.”
Buddle is a known quantity for the Galaxy boss as the 33-year-old striker has suited up for Arena three times in his career. The forward and Arena teamed up first with the New York Red Bulls (2006) before Buddle enjoyed two stints with the Arena at the Galaxy (2007-10 and 2012).
Under Arena, Buddle has put forth some of his most productive seasons including goal outputs of 15 and 17 in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
“I’d like to see him be a good player for us,” Arena said. “He should be able to step in and help our team maintain its competitiveness and score some goals.”
As for when he’ll start making an impact on the field, don’t expect Buddle to slide into the lineup on Sunday when the Galaxy travel up the coast to take on the Portland Timbers. A lingering left quad injury has left Buddle on the shelf since the club’s preseason friendly against Hammarby nearly a month ago, and will likely keep him out of contention for at least one more week.
Once he returns to full fitness, however, the veteran believes that the Galaxy have a group in place that could help him embark on one of his trademark scoring streaks.
“It takes a team. It’s not just me [to score],” Buddle said. “I’ve realized over the years that it is a team game and you need a good team no matter how good of a player that you are. That’s why certain teams always end up in first and why some teams can’t get out of the gutters because it’s a collective team effort.
“We have quality players here who put their ego aside to get the job done. No one here thinks that they’re bigger than the franchise, and it shows with all the success that they’ve had.”