CENTENNIAL, Colo. – When the Colorado Rapids unveil their new-look squad in Dallas for the first time on Saturday night (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live), the biggest new face of them all won't be on the field.
The club’s marquee offseason acquisition, Edson Buddle, is still recovering from residual knee fluid buildup, and will fly to his native New York over the weekend for further evaluation.
The former LA Galaxy star underwent right knee surgery for a torn meniscus in his last June, and then he suffered a recurrence of fluid buildup in the same knee in January. Buddle been undergoing plasma-rich therapy in LA, but he hasn’t practiced fully since starting training with the Rapids earlier this month. The 31-year-old striker will get a third opinion on the troublesome knee, with further surgery a looming possibility.
“I need a full week of training with the team where it’s not on my mind that something else goes wrong,” Buddle told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday afternoon. “I just want to be confident instead of making it worse. If I need to get surgery, I’ll get surgery.”
If the doctor clears the 2010 World Cup veteran, however, he could fully return to the practice fields as soon as next week, and he still has a chance of being ready for the Rapids’ home opener on March 9.
“Next week, I’m thinking to be full training with the team,” said Buddle, who was acquired from the Galaxy in a December trade. “See the doctor in New York on Monday, get a third look at it and hopefully all goes well there and I’ll be ready next week.”
Buddle’s absence leaves the Rapids’ strikeforce thin and young. Rookie DeShorn Brown will likely start in his MLS debut on Saturday – “I’m not afraid to throw those [young] guys in,” head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday – with sparingly used fourth-year pro Andre Akpan as his primary backup at center striker.
But despite not being ruled out of the Rapids’ opener, Buddle says he’s felt better over the last few weeks.
“I feel all right" he said. "Of course, coming back from any injury, no matter what it is, you take it step by step. It’s never you have an injury that just gets better right away. That’s just what’s going on. Training every day. It feels good, no [knee] fluid.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.