Second Bundesliga relegation fighters Ingolstadt officially announced the signing of LA Galaxy forward Edson Buddle on Monday, ending LA's courtship to bring the MLS Best XI striker back to the Home Depot Center in 2011.
Buddle, 29, was presented at Audi Sportpark alongside fellow fresh catch Artur Wichniarek on Monday evening. A source familiar with the negotiations said Buddle signed a 2.5-year deal with the club.
The Ingolstadt news ends speculation that Buddle would return to LA after his best year as a seasoned MLS veteran, scoring a carer-high 17 goals and helping lead the Galaxy to the Supporters' Shield. He also added a dramatic chip shot from distance that helped the Galaxy get past the Seattle Sounders in the first game of their Western Conference semifinal series and eventually reach the Western Conference final.
“While I have decided to leave the Galaxy, I do so with fond memories of my four years with the club,” Buddle said in a statement. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Los Angeles and will miss my teammates, coaches, staff and everyone who works for the club as they helped make me the player that I am today. I also want to thanks all of the great Galaxy fans who have supported me ever since I arrived at the club and I am hopeful that one day I will be able to return to the Galaxy and help lead them to an MLS Cup championship.”
Buddle's success this season also launched his international career, as he went from a complete outsider to the US national team to a valuable substitute during the World Cup in South Africa.
Buddle's contract with the Galaxy expired at the end of the 2010 season and Galaxy officials were hopeful they could bring Buddle back to team up with a rested Landon Donovan and a healthy David Beckham. They took a shot on former New York Red Bulls Designated Player Juan Pablo Angel during Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft last month and head coach Bruce Arena was forthcoming about his plan to play the two alongside one another in what would have been perhaps the most formidable front line in the league.
"We would anticipate Edson signing a new deal, and I would have no problem playing [Buddle and Ángel] together," Arena told ExtraTime Radio last month. "We expect to sign Edson to a new contract."
Arena declined comment on Buddle's new deal Monday while attending the MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Buddle was also a potential target to play in England, where both Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday reportedly expressed interest this offseason in bringing the 10-year MLS veteran into camp.
Buddle will hope to debut for his new club when they resume the season with a Jan. 16 visit to league leaders Augsburg. Ingolstadt is currently in 17th place in the league, and have struck for more than one goal just once in the last 12 league outings.