The last time the Colorado Rapids were in Los Angeles to take on the Galaxy, Edson Buddle, hobbled by a recurring knee injury, couldn’t play against the team that traded him to Colorado during the offseason.
But in Saturday night’s 1-0 win over the Galaxy at the StubHub Center, Buddle made the most of his first road match against his old team with a wonder-strike that clinched three crucial points for the Rapids and dealt his former squad a crushing defeat.
With the game still scoreless in the 75th minute, midfielder Vicente Sanchez stole the ball away from Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant and sprinted down the right wing, drawing in three LA defenders. With Buddle unmarked to Sanchez’s left just outside the 18, the Uruguayan laid the ball off for the 32-year-old veteran, who blasted a screamer into the top corner to hand Colorado the lead, and ultimately, three massive points that pushed them within a point of the Galaxy for the third spot in the West.
“Not only do I like playing [in LA], I like just coming here in general, it’s a great city,” Buddle told reporters postgame. “Even before I got [in LA], I always liked playing here. To play here and come back, it’s still the same feeling.”
To date, Buddle has had a mostly frustrating season littered with nagging injuries. But he's found his form just in time for the home stretch of the season, netting three goals in 122 minutes of play over his last three games.
The first two (against Vancouver and Sporting Kansas City, respectively) both came off deflections. But Saturday’s goal was a pure golazo that looks like a near-lock to be in the running for Goal of the Week.
“All the players are happy for the result, happy for the group, but mostly happy for Edson,” Colorado head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters postgame. “He has been training very hard and I know what this game means for him and giving us three points with such a great goal, it was outstanding.”
Buddle has provided the Rapids with a big boost at the right time. Making his first start in over a month on Saturday, Buddle hopes his golazo further helps him work his way back into the lineup.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs, and just to get going is great,” Buddle said. “To do it on the road in this place is not easy and we just have to build on this and keep going.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.