With fitness the final hurdle, Edson Buddle nears return for Colorado Rapids

Edson Buddle with the Rapids

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Colorado Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Edson Buddle isn’t quite there yet, but he’s getting close.

The Colorado Rapids’ prized offseason acquisition is still recovering from the therapy he underwent for loose cartilage in his right knee, but if all goes to plan, he should be ready to go for the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup opener against Real Salt Lake on March 16.

“I’m doing alright. I think I did the proper physical therapy,” Buddle told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “I’ve just got to see how I feel every day after I train.”

Buddle expects to miss the Rapids’ home opener against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday (6 pm ET, watch LIVE online) despite practicing fully for much of this week. The 31-year-old, who underwent surgery on the troublesome right knee last June, is working on conditioning after receiving a thumbs up from team doctor Dr. Wayne Gersoff over the weekend.

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But Buddle still needs to clear a few more hurdles before he can return to the field. After practicing Tuesday and Wednesday, Buddle’s knee felt fine, but he realized that his conditioning still isn’t where he wants it to be yet.

“It’s hard to get match fitness by practicing,” said Buddle, who plans on playing in a reserve match, possibly as soon as Sunday, before returning to action. “I kind of want to get that before I get into a game.”

Overall, the news is looking promising for Buddle, who’s being counted on to shoulder the majority of the Rapids’ goal-scoring load in 2013.

“He’s getting better,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s getting close.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.