CARSON, Calif. – Edson Buddle knows what he most needs these days is a goal, and he believes he's going to get one any moment now. That wouldn't quite complete his comeback from knee surgery, but it sure would help him find his place with the LA Galaxy.
The veteran forward has tallied just twice in a campaign loaded with little setbacks and one big stoppage, a three-month absence after undergoing surgery at the end of May to repair his right meniscus.
“That's the most important thing for a striker,” said Buddle, who is eight away from his 100th MLS regular-season goal. “That's how I eat – what I'm paid to do is score goals.”
He had 15 in 2008 and 17 (plus two more in the playoffs) two years ago, but he hasn't been able to contribute the way he'd like since returning to LA in January following a year in Germany. He's never been 100 percent this season and since returning to the field in August he has struggled to make an impact, still trying to find his path back.
“It's challenging,” Buddle said. “It's something I have to fight through, and it's getting better. It's not like I'm so far behind I have a long ways to go.”
Asked how frustrating it's been, he offers a typically sunny answer: “I’ve had more frustrating things in my life. This isn't the most frustrating thing ever. I would say this is just an experience.”
Buddle returned to the field in the Aug. 29 CONCACAF Champions League victory over Puerto Rico. He has played in all six games since – he went 90 minutes in the Sept. 19 return date with the Islanders and has come off the bench in the past five MLS dates and made two starts for the reserves, whom he will lead in the Galaxy's MLS Reserve League finale Friday morning against Vancouver at the Home Depot Center.
He says he's “getting sharper every day,” that “the coaches see it, I feel it” and that the process is easier because he knows this team, despite missing last year's championship run.
“The good thing is I'm familiar with these players, and they have respect for me,” he said. “I just don't want to lose that respect and [I want to] continue to grow with this team.”
The way to do so? Goals.
“There's so many things that go into scoring goals,” he said. “You have to do a lot of little things, and that's what I'm focused on. For me, getting the goals, sometimes it's a reverse, it helps the little things ... giving the team a lot more energy and the confidence to get me the ball in more dangerous spots.”
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.