When Edson Buddle left L.A. Galaxy in January, and signed with a team from the second division in the German league, many an eyebrow was raised in surprise. The striker, from New Rochelle, NY had top-scored for the Galaxy in 2010 and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player. Prior to the US Men’s national team match with Argentina on Saturday, we caught up with Buddle and got his take on his experiences in Germany to date, the differences between training styles, and his opinion on the new striker in the national team, Juan Agudelo.
Buddle, the only man in MLS history to score 40+ goals for two different teams, said that his time with FC Ingolstadt 04 was going “Good, so far…the team have been very welcoming.” He went on to say that he hasn’t been a fast learner with the language, (“My English isn’t so great, either”) but he has some classes booked for when he returns to the team.
Speaking about Juan Agudelo, Buddle said that the young striker reminded him of another former Red Bull, in that he appeared “Very similar to Jozy (Altidore), when Jozy came to Red Bulls. He’s very composed, seems like he’d been here for a while” and that the best advice that Buddle would give Agudelo is to “Do whatever he’s been doing, always be humble, and he will go far.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the conversation was when Buddle was asked if he would recommend Germany as an option to other American players: “Absolutely. For me, being there now, I wish I had gone there when I was younger, a lot earlier. It’s mostly because of the training, how they work so hard, pushing me”. When pressed he even said he’d like to have started his career in Germany, and that the level of soccer in the second tier of the German league is slightly higher than that of MLS, and definitely more physical.
“I noticed in Germany that they have natural wingers, who stay on the line and just serve the ball up. That makes my job a lot easier, and I can just stay central.”
Apart from the obvious talk amongst the players about facing the might of two-time World Champions Argentina – as well as World Player of the Year Lionel Messi – the group’s thoughts were clearly with Stuart Holden as he strives to overcome another unfortunate injury. Captain Carlos Bocanegra said that “It’s just unfortunate for us because he was becoming a big part of this team, and especially as a player who’s in form like he is. It’s a big loss for us. And it’s disappointing for him on a personal level.” Fellow Premiership player Clint Dempsey added “We will miss him, he’s had a great season and we look forward to him getting healthy and coming back to camp and being able to play with us, because he’s a great player.”
Dempsey has been getting his first look at some of the newer faces in the USMNT setup; “Its my first camp with some of the younger guys, it’s good to see new faces. There’s some other young players who weren’t called into this camp, but yeah, it’s good to get those players in and see how they do at this level and also how they do in training with the European players being there and see where they stack up; whether they’ll break into the starting 11 or not.”
Finally, when asked about the MLS story of last weekend, namely the 2-goal comeback of Charlie Davies, Dempsey noted “it’s not so much about what it means to us, it’s more what it means for him – it’s a confidence boost for him that is much needed after being out for a year and a half. [He’s] good character to have around the locker room.”
USA vs Argentina (From New Meadowlands, NJ), 26th March, 7pm. Live on ESPN2