COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — He’s back! Well, kind of.
Edson Buddle made his Colorado Rapids debut on Saturday afternoon, playing the opening hour of the 2-2 draw with Portland before being lifted for Atiba Harris in the 61st minute. Thrust into the starting lineup perhaps a tad earlier than anticipated due to a laundry list of injuries, Buddle said he doesn’t feel fully match fit.
“I felt like it was my first game back,” Buddle told MLSsoccer.com postgame on Saturday. “A little unfit, not as explosive, repetitive running as I’d like to do. I think the guys behind me did a great job of filling on the space for me, the ground I couldn’t cover.”
The best news for Rapids fans? Buddle emerged the game feeling healthy despite his early return. Battling fluid buildup in his right knee for the last few months, Buddle said that while he felt the injury at times, overall, Saturday’s debut was a success from a health standpoint.
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“I feel healthy – my knee held up pretty good,” Buddle said. “One time in the first half where I had one push-off, I kind of felt it wasn’t as strong as I want it to be. But I think that will come with time. But overall, I feel good."
Meanwhile, on the Rapids’ first goal of the afternoon, Buddle offered a glimpse into what the team hopes to get from its prized offseason acquisition. In the 18th minute, the former Galaxy star held the ball near the Timbers’ touchline, drawing in and fighting off two defenders in order to dish the ball off and open up space for rookie Dillon Powers, who then rocketed home the opener.
Holding the ball up – and, obviously, finishing as well – will be the primary tasks for the 31-year-old, 13th-year pro in a Rapids uniform.
“I think he’s getting there,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said of Buddle postgame. “But I thought he did a good job. Today he came up and had a good half. I thought he started a little slow, but after that he was picking up his rhythm. His presence for sure helped the team today and I was happy to see that.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.