(Long Island, N.Y.) It doesn’t seem like an entire decade ago that Edson Buddle led the Long Island Rough Riders to the United Soccer League’s Northeast Division title. The forward scored 11 goals and had four assists in only 26 games that season, one in which he was named the A-League Rookie of the Year.
Buddle moved on to the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer in 2001 and stayed for five years before playing for the New York MetroStars/Red Bulls franchise (2006) and Los Angeles Galaxy (2007 to present). This season, he started off fast with nine goals in seven games and earned a call-up to the United States National Team as one of the 30 players on the roster for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
“The Rough Riders are proud to have provided the platform for Buddle to succeed at the highest level,” Rough Rider President Peter Zaratin said. “We are excited to see him play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”
As one of the American squad’s four forwards, Buddle did not waste any time proving his worth with a pair of scores on June 5th in a warm-up contest against Australia. “It’s always great to get goals; as a striker you live for that – it’s your job,” Buddle told FIFA.com after the 3-1 victory. “My confidence has improved and I helped the team get a good win just before we’re about to get started in the biggest tournament in the world. Everything is happening so quickly.”
The 29-year-old will be joining a roster that may be very talented, but still has a ways to go as far as being impressive on the international stage. Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez and Robbie Findley are names that are known on the American mainland and abroad, but they will all have to play at their very best for the squad to have a chance in South Africa.
USA head coach Bob Bradley definitely saw something in Buddle, 29, who has matured and learned from his mistakes. Back in 2005, he was suspended for a month after violating the MLS’s substance abuse and behavioral health policy. But a year ago, Buddle came into his own with 15 goals in helping the Galaxy reach the MLS Cup.
Now he finds himself many miles from his New Rochelle home in search of success against a field including 33 other nations. The USA is in Group C, along with Algeria, Slovenia and England, their first opponent on Saturday in the month-long tournament. The Brits will be without star David Beckham, Buddle’s Galaxy teammate who will miss the entire tournament with an Achilles injury.
This will be the USA’s ninth World Cup appearance and they hope to make some noise this time around. Their most successful tourney came 80 years ago in Uruguay when they made the semi-finals. In the last World Cup in 2006, the Americans did not get past the first round of play in Germany. They opened with a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic, but followed that up with an impressive 1-1 tie versus eventual champion Italy. Disappointment was on the horizon as Ghana moved on in their first World Cup appearance by disposing of the US, 2-1.
Getting into the knockout round is a must if the US expects to gain any respect from the international corps. They need more games like the middle on this time around and Buddle may be a big part of that.