ESPN's Taylor Twellman criticised Edson Buddle for not making the run that would have led to an easy goal against LA, saying he needed to "get on his horse." The week before that, Altitude's Marcelo Balboa pointed out that Buddle repeatedly is nowhere near the 18 yard box (nevermind the 6) when crosses come in on Rapids' attacks. Buddle is the Rapids' striker, their target player, and his struggles to fill that role keep dragging on. He looked better against the LA Galaxy this weekend, making more runs forward and even coming close to a goal on a breakaway. But still too often, he was well away from the play when he should have been lurking in the box, waiting to pounce. Even with what appeared to be added motivation to play well against his former team (or knowing he may have competition coming in), Buddle again failed to live up to the standard he has set over the years in MLS.
So what's wrong? He may still dealing with physical or mental effects of injuries. He is also still struggling to get in shape, which was expected in April and even May, but concerning four months into the season. Or he may be lacking the motivation needed to push himself more, something the addition of someone like Gabriel Torres may provide him. Whatever it is, Balboa and Twellman are right. Buddle has to get himself into goal-scoring position more often. If he's 35 yards from goal when Chris Klute puts one of his crosses in, he's not pulling his weight.
It doesn't help that the guy he essentially replaced, Conor Casey, has been lighting it up for the Philadelphia Union lately. They've played comparable minutes, but Casey has 7 goals and 4 assists to Buddle's 2 and 2. But it's not just goals, Casey has been playing the role for Philly that he played so well in Colorado for years: being the target player who is always lurking in the danger area, occupying defenders. Whether it's fitness, injuries/age, or desire, Buddle is not causing defenders much concern.
The Rapids need a striker, and if he signs with the team (and Rapids fans know better than to take any signings for granted), Torres may be that man (or that may be asking a bit much of a young player who is new to the country and league). But either way, Buddle has too much ability to just be replaced. The Rapids need him for depth if nothing else, so here's hoping he finds the motivation to get healthy/fit and get into the box, to start reminding Rapids fans of the Buddle of old.