L.A.'s Buddle playing like namesake

By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

MLS Features Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Edson Buddle was handed unreasonable goals by his father, Winston, on the day the younger Buddle was born.

Edson was named after his father's favorite player, Brazilian Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele.

Upon his birth, Buddle trailed the legendary player by well over 1,000 goals. Ten years into his MLS career, he's still well over 1,000 goals behind, based on Pele's unofficial total.

While Buddle's father surely didn't expect Edson to live up to his namesake, a quick look at the first four matches of the season makes the comparison a little harder to ignore (although the two are obviously still oceans apart).

Buddle, overshadowed on a Los Angeles Galaxy team featuring English star David Beckham and U.S. star Landon Donovan, has scored all seven of his team's goals through four games - all wins.

He is the first player in MLS history to score a team's first seven goals, and has the most goals in league history for a single player after four matches.

Buddle is no stranger to Pele's second home, the back of the net, as he has 82 goals in his career. He's scored a career-high 15 goals two years ago, and has hit double digits two other times.

But seven goals in four matches?

"I don't know if I've ever seen a player in this league be this on fire," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis told Fox Soccer Channel after a 2-1 defeat to L.A. on Saturday.

"I don't think I've ever seen anything like it," Donovan told the Daily Breeze after Saturday's match.

Edson Buddle
Edson Buddle has scored all seven of his team's goals
through four games.
"Everything he's touching at the moment is going in the back of the net," L.A. midfielder Chris Birchall added.

Buddle's two-goal performance on Saturday was his third multi-goal game of the season. His second goal, a half-volley in the 76th minute, left RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to chance to make a save.

Kreis, who scored 108 goals as a player in MLS, said Buddle was the difference in the game.

"The first [reason's] got two names: Edson Buddle. That's two fantastic goals by him, that second goal especially," Kreis said. "Opponents beware."

"His performance has been outstanding. I don't know how else to describe what he's done to date," L.A. coach Bruce Arena remarked.

"What more can you say?"

How about, Bob Bradley, are you watching? Buddle has played just one match for the U.S. national team and that was back in March of 2003 when he came off the bench against Venezuela.

Buddle has never been used by current U.S. coach Bradley, but his form beckons for a call-up on the eve of the World Cup. If nothing else, Buddle could get a chance to showcase himself in training before the World Cup.

If his current form holds, it might be impossible for Bradley to leave him out of the picture. Especially with concerns about injured strikers Charlie Davies and Brian Ching, who Bradley may leave off the plane to South Africa.

L.A. wouldn't mind, even though there is a break in the schedule for the World Cup. But for Buddle, who turns 29 next month, it sure would be an amazing rise in such a short time.

"I don't know why, at least, he doesn't get an opportunity," Kreis told the Los Angeles Daily News. "This is the highest level (of soccer) in our country, and if you're on form and certainly the type of tear he is (on) I think you have to kind of force hands at that point."

Buddle played only 11 minutes in that match for the U.S. eight long years ago, so he obviously hasn't been holding his breath for another chance.

He is not an equal to Pele, to be sure (but really, is anybody?), and Buddle knows that so much is out of his hands. He might not score again this season, or he might break Roy Lassiter's single-season scoring record of 27, which has stood since the league's first season in 1996.

He might be in South Africa in two months, wearing the U.S. jersey once again, or on his couch in the U.S. watching along with the rest of the world.

Buddle is "just enjoying it right now," and added, "I hope to keep scoring.

"I've always stayed levelheaded because, like I said, there are always ups and downs."

Pat Martin Comments? Criticism? Applause?
Contact Pat Martin at pmartin@sportsnetwork.com
Contact Brian Westfall at bwestfall@sportsnetwork.com
Brian Westfall
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