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Black History Month: The stealthiness of Edson Buddle

When you look back at the stats of Edson Buddle, his career sneakily matches up with the greats.

Sydney FC v LA Galaxy - Hyundai Club Challenge Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

When you look at the record books of Major League Soccer, you will see a lot of legendary performances and stats from some of the best to ever play the game in this country. However, towards the bottom of the 100 goal list, you’ll see the name of a guy that’s not normally associated with greatness. Still, his stats prove that he was able to sustain a great, long career where he calm yet dependable in scoring goals for his team.

Born in Westchester County, New York, Edson Buddle’s name came from greatness. His father Winston, who was born in Jamaica and played professional soccer, named Edson after former player Edson Arantes do Nascimento. The world knew that player best as Pelé.

He played one year of college soccer at State Fair Community College, leading them to the 1999 NJCAA national championship. He then began his professional career, joining the Long Island Rough Riders from the A-League and helping them to win the Northeast Division. He was a finalist for Rookie of the Year, scoring 11 goals and assisting on 4 more on the season.

His year with Long Island helped him get selected 27th overall in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew. In his first year, despite limited minutes, he had 3 goals and 2 assists. The next year, he helped lead the Crew to the U.S. Open Cup title, scoring 9 goals and had 5 assists.

Buddle’s main concern was that he was plagued by several injuries over the course of his career. Despite those injuries, he was able to maintain and, when he was healthy enough to play, consistently score goals for his team. In 2003 and 2004, despite missing several matches due to injury, he scored 21 goals for the Crew.

In 2005, he was traded to the New York Red Bulls, where he had an injury-riddled season. Still, he scored 6 goals for the club before the traded him at the end of the season to expansion club Toronto FC. He only appeared in 10 matches for Toronto because of his injury struggles, and it was the only club where he failed to score a goal. However, he did assist on the team’s first ever goal.

In June 2007, Buddle was traded to the LA Galaxy, where he would experience the most success. He scored in his team debut, and despite the Galaxy’s plethora of talent at the striker position, slid right in to become a lethal striker when he got onto the field. In 2008, he scored 2 hat tricks in the course of a month, and he went on to score 15 goals for the team on the season.

2009 wasn’t a great season for Buddle, but in 2010, he opened on a tear. He scored 7 goals in the team’s first 4 matches, and he had scored 9 goals by mid-May. He was so hot that he got called up to the USMNT for the 2010 World Cup, where he promptly scored a brace in a pre-World Cup friendly against Australia.

Edson Buddle went on to win the LA Galaxy’s team MVP, Golden Boot, and Humanitarian of the Year awards in 2010, with the Galaxy winning the Supporters’ Shield and the Western Conference. Buddle was also named to the MLS Best XI that season.

In January 2011, Buddle left the LA Galaxy for FC Ingolstadt 04, where he scored in his debut. He only scored 9 goals in 33 appearances for Ingolstadt, and the team released him in January 2012. He trialed with Everton, but eventually returned to the LA Galaxy. His 2012 season was disappointing, only scoring 3 times in 28 appearances. The year ended with him on the move again, this time to the Colorado Rapids.

Buddle’s injury woes continued, and he started to slow down a bit with the Rapids. In 2013 and 2014, he only scored 7 goals. His final goal for the Rapids came on August 21, 2014 in a match against his former LA Galaxy. That goal, a header off a corner kick, was his 100th in Major League Soccer. He is one of 11 players in MLS history to log 100 career goals. Despite returning for a 3rd stint with the LA Galaxy in 2015, that 100th goal was his final one. He retired after the 2015 season.

Playing for 14 years in spite of his injury woes, Edson Buddle was able to break through and continue to show his talent in the face of adversity. His injuries are why people don’t really look at his career as the stuff of legends, but his stats will forever live in the record books right next to them.