Covering the MLS' Biggest, Baddest Team
It looks like Beckham and Donovan have kicked off what will become an annual MLS tradition. Sometime between the MLS Cup and New Year’s Day, we’ll begin to hear about how a number of MLS stars, looking to say sharp, head over to Europe for trials and training stints. Young players will be looking to break into top flight European soccer and older players will be looking for one last payday.
As I said on Twitter earlier today, the only difference between a trial and a training stint is the level of commitment of the buyer going in. If a player is an upgrade for the team, the team will make an offer. A trial just means that the club thinks that might be the case before the player arrives.
With the Galaxy saying no to Becks and Landon saying no to Merseyside, attention over a possible transfer or loan move of a Galaxy player has shifted to Edson Buddle. Buddle’s training stint with Birmingham City was widely reported, but now he is linked with Stoke, Wolves, Everton, Rangers, and League One side Sheffield Wednesday, who have apparently deemed Buddle “too rich for our blood.”
While the American keeper has been a mainstay in England for a while, the American striker hasn’t been far behind. Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey have firmly embedded themselves in Fulham lore, and even Eddie Johnson is experiencing something of a renaissance at Craven Cottage. Edson is also a classic English striker: a big, powerful target forward who can get on the end of crosses and run at defenses.
If a permanent move becomes a possibility, it makes too much sense for everyone involved. Buddle would get his chance to ply his trade at the highest level, which would be his best option for staying in the picture for the 2014 World Cup. The cupboard is quickly filling up with young strikers if Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo stay on track. MLS would likely be selling high on Buddle, getting the best possible transfer fee, without losing too much marketing punch.
The only real loser in this scenario would be the Galaxy, who would be back to an even thinner strike force now that Tristan Bowen was shipped down the hallway. That’s probably the reason Bruce Arena has been so adamant that Buddle isn’t going anywhere; the Galaxy don’t have a good option to replace him. The best hope is to delay a move until after the SuperDraft where the Galaxy can hopefully pick up a young replacement for Buddle.
Since the league holds at least some of the strings, I would expect that if the price is right, Buddle will go. And until adequate replacements are found, that would turn a Galaxy team that has looked talented but top-heavy in 2011 into one that now has question marks all over the field.