A Case for Buddle

Before I start, I just want to say that I have no association whatsoever to the LA Galaxy or Edson Buddle.  I have no money riding on Edson Buddle being on the National Team.  And really, I want Davies and Ching to get back healthy because I believe that they give us the best chance to win.  However, this is an interesting thought experiment.

With all the injuries that have hit the US Men’s National Team, the position that has had the most problems finding replacements has been striker.  After Jozy Altidore, there are no guaranteed strikers that will make the team.  Much ink has been spilled about Charlie Davies and Brian Ching is now injured.  Clint Dempsey can play striker, but his natural position is out on the wing.

With all of these injuries, three primary names have come up recently as other options for striker.  Conor Casey has been put forth as a replacement for Ching in the role as target forward.  Hercules Gomez, playing for Puebla in the Mexican Primera Division, and has scored 8 goals in 13 games there.  The final name being floated is Edson Buddle, currently playing for the LA Galaxy in MLS and who has scored all 5 goals for the Galaxy so far this season.

None of these players are regulars on the team: Casey has the most experience, with 19 caps, and the most goals, with 2 (both scored during the World Cup qualifier against Honduras in October).  Hercules Gomez has appeared in two matches for the National Team, both of them in 2007, and has scored no goals.  Edson Buddle has one cap for the National Team, which occurred in 2003.

My main reason for the inclusion of Buddle, besides his current form, is the fact that he already plays with one of the key members of the US Men’s National Team: Landon Donovan. Two of Buddle’s five goals have been assisted by Donovan.  The first goal came off of a free kick from the foot of Donovan, in the game versus the Revolution, which Buddle then headed home.  Their second hookup was in the Chivas game, where Donovan beat his man and served a ball into the middle.  Buddle put away the easy goal.  This isn’t surprising: Donovan is the main creative force on that team.  But the problem with bringing in someone so late is that they have almost no experience playing with the other members of the National Team.  This preexisting bond between Donovan and Buddle proves intriguing.

Now all of this might not end up mattering.  The May camp my provide all of the time necessary for Gomez or Casey to pass Buddle or for Davies and Ching to get healthy and prove worthy of inclusion.  However, this preexisting bond between Donovan and Buddle may give him the slight bump necessary to get him on the team should Ching or Davies not be able to play.

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