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Buddle for the USMNT? A Point/Counter-Point

After getting off to the most blazing start of a season in MLS history, nobody’s stock has soared faster than Edson Buddle’s.  The Galaxy are 4-0, have out-scored their opponents 7-1 and all seven goals came off the head or foot of Buddle.  With the forward position the biggest question mark confronting Bob Bradley as he ponders which 23 players will be going to South Africa in June, Buddle is making his clam for one of those positions.

This is an unexpected development for a nine year MLS veteran with a single senior cap to his name.  Buddle has played for four different MLS teams, and has battled injuries, substance abuse issues and a reputation for laziness.  Nobody has doubted Buddle’s natural gifts, and those moments when he has been focused and injury-free have generated some terrific runs of form.  However Buddle’s career has never attracted the interest of either overseas teams or US National Team coaches.

Yet, his startling 2010 streak has generated a lot of buzz.  But does he have what it takes to go to South Africa?  This is the debate that is going on in my head:

Take Him to Africa!  The man is scoring goals.  With Charlie Davies and Brian Ching still a huge doubt, Conor Casey’s stock falling, and Kenny Cooper unable to get off the bench at Plymouth (!!), it would be nice to put a striker on the team who is actually putting the ball in the net.

Leave him home!   Buddle is hot at the moment, but let’s have a little perspective.  After spending nine years without getting a sniff at an important position with the Nats, after four games he is our savior?  Let’s not confuse the flavor of the month with a gourmet classic.

But this hot streak is not out of the blue.  Instead of going home to New York this off-season, Buddle stayed in Los Angeles working out.  He hit the gym and the training ground, worked on his game, and came to pre-season training in top shape.  Buddle, who has been susceptible to running out of gas and losing a step after about 60 minutes is now working hard and battling for every ball for all 90 minutes.  The 2010 Buddle is the Buddle that he always should have been.

Buddle may be in good shape, but everyone’s focus on Donovan has given Buddle more room to play than he has ever had.  Every opposing MLS manager approaches their game against the Galaxy with one objective – contain Landon Donovan.  Donovan is quicker and has better ball control than any other player in MLS, and he has the ability to cut open any MLS defense.  As opposing teams shift to deny Donovan as much space as they can, Buddle has found acres available for him to drive to the goal and score.

Have you seen Buddle playing?  He is fighting though bodies for all his goals.  Last Saturday was a great example.  All game Buddle was battling RSL’s Nat Borchers whether the ball was at his feet or 50 yards away.  They were throwing each other to the turf and at times it resembled UFC as much as it did MLS.  However, Buddle kept his cool all game, fought through Borchers and several others for his first headed goal and darted through several defenders to receive Juninho’s pass, controlled the ball and blasted it into the RSL net for his second.

Even if we agree Buddle is good enough, is he what the Nats need?   Buddle’s game is similar to Jozy Altidore’s.  Buddle is big and strong, and what we need is deft and quick to pair with Jozy.  That is why the Davies/Altidore combination was so good, and if we play Buddle and Altidore together, where is the speed to match the brawn?

You are telling me what we need, and I am telling you what we have.  Having Davies healthy would be great.  Having another super-quick striker would be terrific.  Having Leo Messi decide to become an American citizen would be fabulous.  Unfortunately, Bob Bradley has to play the cards that are in his deck.  The fact of the matter is that the talent pool for the Nats at striker is pretty shallow, and if Buddle is scoring good goals in bunches, that has to count for a lot.

The next thing you are going to tell me is that we should take Herculez Gomez too. 

Actually, I think we should, but that is a debate for another time. 

Other random notes from the Galaxy-RSL game…..

  • The new fashion in replica kit-wear?  I saw at least a dozen Galaxy fans wearing Donovan’s #9 Everton jersey at the game.  Moreover, four or five of those fans decided to show-off their inside-knowledge coolness by purchasing and wearing the Toffee’s away black jersey with Donovan’s name and number. 
  • About 1,000 Galaxy fans showed up two hours before the game to watch British celebrities and ex-footballers play celebrities and ex-footballers from the rest of the world.  The Brits won 3-1.  Fox Soccer Channel’s  and ex Newcastle player Warren Barton got the first goal for the Brits and X-Men III and Snatch’s Vinnie Jones got the next two, including one from a nice cross by The Queen’s and Frost/Nixon’s Michael Sheen.  Heroes’ Santiago Cabrera pulled one back for the rest for the world at the very end.  Despite the Galaxy promising that Gordon Ramsey would be there, he was actually a no-show.  Ramsey, you are a disgrace!!
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  1. jcranma

    April 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Buddle and Gomez deserve invites to camp and the friendly games. If Davies can’t recover in time, it might not be a bad idea to take them both, but they should just come off the bench.

  2. JS

    April 21, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    You should add that he faces tougher competition week in and week out than the other choices. MLS is the world’s most competitive league in the world and he has to be on his A game every week.

    In the EPL you can take half the games off, and it does not matter. The top 4 wins everything and the rest of the league sux. Spain also.

    • come on

      April 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm

      You’re living in a fantasy world.

      Most competitive league can mean two different things:

      1. A league in which the play is the highest in the world and it’s the toughest league to play in. (EPL, Serie A, etc.)
      2. A league in which the teams are so equal every match could go either way. (I assume you mean the MLS).

      Not only is the analysis of the EPL wrong (Burnley v. Man U, Wigan v. Arsenal, etc.), it’s farcical to refer to the MLS as the most competitive league in the world.

      • Jeff

        April 23, 2010 at 5:11 pm

        Eurosnob sighting!

        MLS is the most competitive league in the world. No other league features so much mystery going into each game and the opportunity for anyone to win a title from year to year. If you took an all star team from MLS and put them together they would be among the top teams in the world. They would win most European leagues and would have an excellent chance to win the Champions League.

        I doubt you’d find a team better than our team. Barcelona or Real Madrid maybe, but we’d win the English league in my opinion.

        • Rhett

          April 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm

          I agree. Recall that an MLS All Star team that had several withdrawals still beat a full strength Cheslea then the reigning EPL Champions after the last World Cup.

          An MLS All Star team would be very tough to beat in Champions League. Can you imagine Beckham, Donovan, Ljunberg, Montero, Angel, DeRo, Twellman, among others all on the same team? They’d be as good as anyone in Europe.

  3. joejoe

    April 21, 2010 at 1:57 am

    It’s too late for making radical changes. Gomez should go only because Ching is questionable, but Buddle should stay home and clean pools.

  4. Charles

    April 20, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Why do I see US Soccer doing something we will look back on years from now and think “what were they thinking ?”
    Like keeping the old guys in ’98, I see them relying on guys that will have been playing for 2 weeks after being out for 6 months after nearly dying.

    The flip side to that, is it is VERY reactionary to include someone like Buddle. He wasn’t even on the radar screen. Maybe that is just what the US needs, a guy to get hot at just the right time.

    If that is the way it goes down……I would rather he comes from MLS.

  5. Rex

    April 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Also, Great chemistry with America’s #1 player, Donovan, has got to count for something.

    • james

      April 19, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      This is actually one of the strongest arguments for including Buddle. He’s untested internationally and has had 4 good games in a decent league. The fact that we’re even having this discussion makes it clear how big of an issue our strike force problem is.

      Bradley should look to adopt a more continental 4-5-1/4-3-3 and play his more experienced attacking mids instead of two big men up front or an untested Herc.

      • Jeff

        April 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm

        MLS is stronger league than Mexico where H. Gomez plays. The competition is stronger week to week. In Mexico a few teams dominate and when they beat MLS we hear how good they are. But our national team has consistently beaten their national team for 10 years because our league is much better.

  6. Brickthrower

    April 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    This is World Cup season. You get one time every 4 years to make the right decision as a coach. Jozy has been lackluster, Davies is still recovering, and so is everyone else. You MUST take Edson Buddle and Herc. These guys aren’t scoring garbage. Herc has scored some important goals in competitive games. Only Davies and Donovan can match his pace. And Buddle is on fire. This guy has made himself stand out in every appearance this season.

    Neither player works out, then oh well. US knew they were gonna be in an offensive jam to begin with. But if these guys hit the tournament red hot and play well, Bradley will look like a genius for taking them. Plus, it’s a good old fashion American success story. You work hard and you get what you deserve. Both these guys hit what looked like it would be the end of their national team careers and now they’ve bounced back. It’s definitely an inspiring story waiting to happen.

  7. ELAC

    April 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Everyone here knows that I would rather develop cancer than to endorse a Galaxy player. However, this is the world cup. He’s scoring goals with Donovan. Give him and Herculez a CHANCE.

    If either of thee guys can help out on defense, then its a no-brainer.

  8. Bob Bradley's Sweat Pants

    April 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    lets not forget he plays in MLS and they have only played four games. Lets not forget that MLS is a salary cap league. Lets not forget that Hecrulez Gomez is currently leading goals scored in the FMF.

    • Sam

      April 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm

      there it is!!
      they plat very similar and gomez is playing in a better league, remember eddie johnson was like buddle once, then he left mls and has fallen off the charts(making a slight comeback)

      • Sgc

        April 20, 2010 at 11:52 am

        Not that I wouldn’t call Gomez in at this point, I’d call them both. But . . .

        A) They don’t play all that similarly. If you mean that neither plays with his back to the goal, sure, but they’re quite different.

        B) Gomez has been hot SLIGHTLY longer, against a league whose defenders are SLIGHTLY better. (The real difference between Mexico and MLS is the quality of the midfielders. Mexican defenders often look like misplaced midfielders, good at the tackle, good at playing the ball out of the back, not so good at not getting caught out.)

        Weighed against that is that Buddle is stronger, faster, a better finisher (Gomez might pass a little better) and had a better goalscoring record over his previous career. Buddle is superficially ‘like Johnson’ only if you never take a good look at the quality of his goals. (And actually, Buddle’s numbers are more consistent than Johnson’s too, for a guy who’s gotten an that inconsistency tag on him throughout his career). In fact Gomez reminds me of Johnson a little more, other than the fact that two of them are big, black and fast.

  9. Lars Lowther

    April 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm


  10. Joey Clams

    April 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    You make good arguments, though, I should have added.

  11. Joey Clams

    April 19, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    He’s scoring goals, he plays with Donovan and he’s healthy.

    Call him up.

    Or should he have to serve a two-apprenticeship first?

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