CARSON, Calif. – When Edson Buddle left the LA Galaxy after the 2010 season, Bruce Arena made sure he left the door open for the striker’s return.
After a year spent further bolstering their attack and eventually winning MLS Cup, LA reaped the rewards of that foresight on Wednesday.
After a yearlong stint in Germany, Buddle officially rejoined the Galaxy, giving LA back the striker who made headliines with a Best XI campaign in 2010.
“We’d been in contact with Edson’s representative awhile,” Arena told reporters on Wednesday. “We always made him aware of the fact that if the opportunity presented him to come back, we’d sure like to get him back.”
The first opportunity the club had to lure Buddle back came recently when the striker and 2.Bundesliga side FC Ingolstadt went their separate ways. Buddle tried his fortune with two other European clubs, trialing with Everton in England and Belgian side KVC Westerlo.
Instead, Buddle opted to return to the Galaxy, where he starred for the club since joining the team during the 2007 season. He netted 42 goals in 87 games with LA before trying his luck in Europe, scoring an eye-popping 17 goals in 2010. Buddle scored the Galaxy's first seven goals that year – several of them in a spectacular manner – and played his way onto the 2010 US World Cup team, making two appearances in South Africa.
Now with Buddle back in the fold, the reigning MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield holders have a loaded attack. He will pair with Robbie Keane up top in what may already be the league’s best strike duo.
If there is a drawback, it is that Keane won’t have a chance to meet and train with Buddle until his short-term loan to Aston Villa ends at the end of the month.
“Hopefully, it’s going to be good,” Arena said of the budding strike partnership. “There’s going to be a lot of work in there, and he’s not going to have much time to work with Robbie.”
And while LA’s top two strikers may be tops in MLS, the depth behind them is strong as well. Chad Barrett and Adam Cristman combined for 11 goals in all competitions a year ago, and Pat Noonan has bagged 41 goals in his decade-long career.
“I anticipate over time it will be a good group,” Arena said. “We’re real pleased with the contingent we have there with Barrett, Noonan, Cristman and [Jack] McBean as well. We’ll have a number of options there, and we’ll need it with the schedule we have. We have to be deep in that position.”
On paper, the Galaxy have the makings of a lethal attack force. Arena refused to put much stock in that, though, making it clear that the team has a lot of hard work ahead to live up to those expectations.
“Paper’s not worth anything,” he said. “It doesn’t mean a damn thing.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.