[MLS PLAYER SPOTLIGHT] Forget David Beckham. The biggest question for the Los Angeles Galaxy was which Edson Buddle would show up for the 2010 season.
Buddle's father, who had immigrated to New York from Jamaica, named him after Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento). Edson Buddle played one season at State Fair Community College before going pro with the A-League’s Long Island Rough Riders.
As a 20-year-old rookie, he scored three goals and made two assists in only 556 minutes of play for the Columbus Crew. That and 30 goals in his next three seasons created expectations that he could become what is so rare: a great American goalscorer.
But by 2007, Buddle had never scored more than 11 goals in a season. He has only one U.S. national team appearance (in 2003). In 2006, he struck just six times for New York in 28 games. He was shipped off to Toronto in 2007 and went 10 game without a goal. That led to a midseason move to Los Angeles, where he struck five goals in 16 games.
Finally, in 2008, Buddle had his best season ever, scoring 15 times for the Galaxy. It looked like he had finally found his stride after a career plagued by injuries and a 2005 suspension for violating MLS’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Policy.
But in 2009, when the Galaxy finished MLS runner-up despite scoring only 36 goals in 30 regular-season games, Buddle was again hit by injuries and managed only five goals in 19 games.
Six minutes into the 2010 season, Buddle scored with a diving header to deliver the Galaxy a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution.
Buddle is only 28 years old. Young enough to prove he just might be a great American goalscorer.