Columbus Crew forward Edson Buddle was selected as the Honda MLS Player of the Week by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA) for the week ending Sept. 19 (Week 25). The 23-year old became the sixth player in MLS history to record at least four goals in a game as he scored every one of his team's goals in a 4-2 win over the MetroStars on Saturday which secured a postseason berth for the Crew. Buddle becomes the first player to achieve the feat since Mamadou Diallo on June 15, 2002, when the MetroStars forward scored four against Los Angeles. This is Buddle's second Player of the Week award of 2004 (Week 18) and the third of his career (Week 1 - 2003).
In the ninth minute and with the Crew trailing by a goal, Ross Paule lofted a ball behind the Metros defense and Buddle timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and coolly slot the ball around goalkeeper Jonny Walker to level the score. The MetroStars again took the lead in the second half, but Buddle answered with his second goal of the night. Teammate Chris Wingert sent a cross into the six-yard box where an unmarked Buddle struck a header to the near post.
"You score one, you want to score two but it doesn't always end up that way," Buddle told the Columbus Dispatch. "Anything in the box I'm trying to put away. It probably doesn't look like that every game. This game it obviously worked out my way."
In the 65th minute, Jeff Cunningham picked up a loose ball in the middle third of the field and perfectly slipped a through ball into the run of Buddle, who calmly rounded Walker to register his first career hat trick.
A near replay of the goal occurred ten minutes later. Cunningham received a pass from Paule and dribbled at the defense on the left. But this time Cunningham picked out the streaking Buddle on the right side of the field. Buddle again beat Walker, sliding the ball under his dive to finish off the match and secure the Crew's place in the playoffs after missing out last season.
"It's the right time for him to be warming up," said Crew Head Coach Greg Andrulis after the game." He's a bit streaky and he has had a few games where he's had some really close calls. He's a kid who has a tremendous amount of potential and I thought he played pretty well tonight, obviously."
In the process Columbus extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games, the second longest overall in MLS history and the longest ever streak in a single season, while also becoming the first team to clinch a place in the 2004 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Buddle was the unanimous winner with New England Revolution's Steve Ralston also receiving votes. The Honda Major League Soccer Player of the Week is selected every week throughout the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA).
2004 PLAYER OF THE WEEK WINNER
Week 1: Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)
Week 2: Pat Onstad (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 3: Fabian Taylor (MetroStars)
Week 4: Carlos Ruiz (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 5: Henry Ring (Chicago Fire)
Week 6: Jovan Kirovski (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 7: Pat Onstad (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 8: Alejandro Moreno (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 9: Jovan Kirovski (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 10: Pat Noonan (New England Revolution)
Week 11: Jeff Cunningham (Columbus Crew)
Week 12: Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United)
Week 13: Amado Guevara (MetroStars)
Week 14: Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards)
Week 15: Jeff Cassar (Dallas Burn)
Week 16: Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 17: Brad Davis (Dallas Burn)
Week 18: Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew)
Week 19: Brian Mullan (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 20: Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)
Week 21: Kyle Martino (Columbus Crew)
Week 22: Ronnie O'Brien (Dallas Burn)
Week 23: Ross Paule (Columbus Crew)
Week 24: Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United)
Week 25: Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew)