AMSTERDAM – Though Edson Buddle has seen his Birmingham City trial extended through next Wednesday, Los Angeles Galaxy manager Bruce Arena is still confident his out-of-contract star striker will be back in MLS next season.
The 29-year-old New York City-area native, who had serious interest from Norwegian side Frerikstad FK in 2006 while with Toronto FC, has thus far played his entire professional career in the US.
Arena told MLSsoccer.com through a Galaxy spokesman that he expects Buddle back in LA once his trial ends around Dec. 22 and that the club will negotiate a new contract with its 2010 top scorer for next season soon after.
The Galaxy landed the rights to former New York Red Bulls Designated Player Juan Pablo Angel during Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft on Wednesday, leading some to speculate if Buddle would return in 2011.
"We would anticipate Edson signing a new deal, and I would have no problem playing [Buddle and Ángel] together," Arena told ExtraTime Radio on Thursday. "We expect to sign Edson to a new contract."
On Thursday, Birmingham manager Alex McLeish answered several beat reporter questions about Buddle's audition, which began on Monday.
"He’s done fine," the Brum boss stated. "I think he’s here for next week, as well, because we’d like a longer look at him. He’s been scoring goals in the MLS and had a good season and he’s available."
It would be tricky for Birmingham to obtain Buddle, however. Though he earned five caps with the US national team in 2010, he falls well short of the 75 percent senior-team involvement needed for automatic approval for a UK work permit. He'd need to earn the rubber stamp on the second-chance path used by Benny Feilhaber to sign with Derby County in 2007.
Buddle, who has also suited up for the Columbus Crew and the New York Red Bulls during his 10 MLS seasons, has racked up 90 goals in 231 regular-season games to stand seventh on the all-time MLS goal chart.