Colorado Rapids hail Edson Buddle as "unrecognized pioneer" as he reaches MLS century club

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – For about 60 minutes, it looked like Edson Buddle was going to be the story of Wednesday night’s showdown between his Colorado Rapids and his old team, the LA Galaxy. In the 17th minute, the 33-year-old striker headed home off a corner kick to collect his 100th career MLS goal, becoming just the eighth player in league history to reach the milestone.

His former teammate and friend Landon Donovan soon stole away the spotlight, however, scoring the game-winning goal in the 80th minute of the Galaxy’s 4-3 win at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Having suffered five consecutive losses, Buddle’s monumental achievement was a welcome bright spot.

“For Edson, that 100th goal is a great stamp to put on the career he’s had,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said after the game. “I think he’s been one of the true unrecognized pioneers in the modern game, and it’s a great accolade to have in the old trophy case. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Starting his professional career in Columbus in 2001 and playing for more than a decade through his current time in Colorado, Buddle reached the milestone with a veteran run and pinpoint, top-corner laser past Galaxy goalie Jaime Penedo for what was at the time a 2-0 Rapids lead less than 20 minutes into the contest.

Afterward, Buddle’s tone appeared to be more somber than celebratory after the Rapids could not hold the two-goal margin.

“It was a good corner kick. The ball that Dillon [Powers] played was in the right place, and I just made my hard run to the goal and got my head on it,” Buddle said on Wednesday night. “I’d rather us play better soccer, so if we’re in better rhythm and we’re flowing, we’re playing as a team, that makes me happier more than just scoring an individual goal.”

In an apt microcosm of the cycle of soccer life, Buddle's finish arrived just three minutes after 20-year-old rookie midfielder Marlon Hairston scored his first MLS goal. But with goal No. 100 now in the bag for Buddle (his first goal since April), his focus remains on getting the Rapids back on track after a frustrating slump in July and August.

“We have a young group; none of them have experienced this before,” Buddle said. “For them it’s new, and for myself, I know how to endure it and overcome it by preparing myself for each and every game. I’m curious to see who’s going to rise above and who’s going to push themselves and not get too low. Even when we’re doing well, you don’t want to get too high either.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.