Edson Buddle isn't the type of guy who is going to show up on Goal of the Week lists very often. He doesn't score 30-yard belters like Jose Mari, because that's not his style. Buddle is going to hit 100 goals this season barring something absolutely catastrophic happening to him, and he's going to do so with little fanfare compared to the flashier stars in the league. He's no Landon Donovan, with versatility and unbelievable finishing ability at his best. He's just Edson Buddle, and even the Rapids fanbase doesn't appreciate him.
I think they should. Since joining the Rapids, Edson Buddle has provided much more than you'd know just watching him. He's another Conor Casey type (in fact, when they first signed him, I said it was because we were looking for a 'cheaper Conor Casey), a guy who scores his goals using solid off-the-ball movement, great hold-up play, and the smarts to be in the right place at the right time. The old-school target man.
He's done a hell of a lot more than a lot of fans will give him credit for since he joined the Rapids, as well. That game-winner against Toronto was his fourth game-winner of his Rapids career, along with two game-winning assists. Of the 17 wins that the Rapids have since the start of 2013, he's provided the winner in six of them. That is the highest amount of game-winning points for any Rapids player since the start of last year. (Second place is our favorite Wily Old Wizard, Vicente Sanchez, who has four: a GWG and three GWA. The fact that he has done that in such a short amount of time is the reason why he is a wizard, and is also best discussed in another post.)
And even when he's not scoring or assisting on game-winners, he seems to be an X-factor for the Rapids, providing calmness to the storm that is the Rapids' chaotic attack. As has been pointed out before, Buddle has been in the starting line-up for 12 of those 17 wins that the Rapids have had since he joined the squad. Considering he's only started 21 games as a Rapid, compared to, say, the 34 that Dillon Powers has started, that's impressive.
This is an aside and has nothing to do with those fun stats, but he does also perform a lot of other duties besides simply scoring goals. Often he won't be the one making the speedy run to the net, but he'll have performed the chest-down and pass that led to a chance in the first place. Many fans seem to forget that when they dismiss him and unneeded.
Even discounting all of the points he's quietly earned the Rapids, I still think he should be starting every game he can. Buddle is a perfect fit for the 4-4-2 diamond that Pablo Mastroeni has recently taken a shining to, because he's really the only striker of his type that the Rapids have.
There's a reason that the old Casey-Cummings scenario worked as well as it did -- Casey was a classic target man at the top of his game and Cummings was a classic deep-lying man at the top of his. It's the type of interplay that every team that plays a 4-4-2 dreams of. Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola forged a great partnership at Real Salt Lake using the same concept. The reason why people expect the Galaxy to do better this year is because they picked up Rob Friend and Samuel, two big guys to finally give Robbie Keane the sizable strike partner he needed last year.
If we're sticking with the 4-4-2, the 'Big Guy Deep Guy' scenario, along with sounding like some horrifying mix between gay pornography and Dr. Seuss, is probably the best option available. Buddle's essentially the only man who can do the 'Big' job and do it well. Alongside him, the Rapids have acres of options: Gabriel Torres, Deshorn Brown, Marvin Chavez, Charles Eloundou. All are guys with speed, finesse, or both to go alongside Buddle's target game.
If Mastroeni's 4-4-2 doesn't last past the Canadian tour, this changes that up just a little bit. Regardless of that though, Buddle should see as much time as Mastroeni can give him; history has shown that the Rapids tend to win more often than not when that happens.