Edson Buddle admittedly doesn’t know a whole lot about the team he’s joining or the coach he’ll be playing under.
But the Colorado Rapids striker does understand one key thing: He’ll be counted on to score plenty of goals for his new team in 2013.
The 31-year-old was acquired by Colorado last week from the LA Galaxy in exchange for the Rapids' 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft first-round pick and allocation money. And the trade caught Buddle, who scored three goals in 19 games for LA in 2012, completely off guard.
“I thought it was a joke at first,” Buddle told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “I wasn’t ready to leave LA. I was sad at first, but I’m real optimistic, so if that’s what it is, I go with it and make the most of any situation.”
The New Rochelle, N.Y., native will likely play the center forward role in Oscar Pareja’s 4-3-3 in 2013. But after being limited to only 19 games and mostly a bench role in 2012, there are questions surrounding Buddle’s ability to remain in the starting lineup, particularly considering his age and his recent history with knee problems (he underwent surgery on his right knee in June).
Even Buddle himself acknowledged that he’s not certain about his health heading into the upcoming year.
“I know my knee hasn’t been as strong as my left just because of the surgery [in June],” Buddle said. “I really don’t notice [my right knee] when I’m running around, but if I do isolated exercises on my right knee, I can definitely notice a difference. It’s not something I want to walk around miserable and make everybody know that my knee isn’t 100 percent, but it’s a good time right now to get it strong so it doesn’t linger.”
But if Buddle can stay on the field, as Colorado have rolled the dice that he’ll be able to do, then they could have one of the league’s elite goalscorers once again fronting their attack after parting ways with Conor Casey last month.
If everything in Commerce City goes to plan, then Buddle will fill that hole and prove to his new team and the rest of the league that there’s still plenty left in the 2010 World Cup veteran's tank.
“I want to show [the fans] that I can still score,” he said. “I know once I’m healthy, I should be able to score goals if I just condition myself the right way and just do the little things that I’ve done in my past.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.