As a national team coach you undoubtedly get awfully tired of the countless little boomlets for the flavor of the Month, who is usually some previously mediocre forward who's on a tear.
What makes it even harder is when the player in question is a guy who hasn't earned a cap in seven years, didn't play a single minute in qualifying and has something of a checkered past littered with long spells of not seeming to give a damn.
With that in mind, allow me to introduce Bob Bradley's worst nightmare:
To say the guy is hot right now is like saying that the Pacific Ocean is a tad damp. Buddle is so on fire that he just set an MLS record by scoring his teams' first seven goals of the season in leading the Galaxy to a 4-0 record and the top of the table.
Almost as impressive have been the goals he has almost scored. He could easily have 14.
Now the "Call in Buddle" refrain isn't exactly a new thing; from week one of the MLS season people have been clamoring for the guy, and with each goal the noise has risen but after yesterday it's going to become practically conventional wisdom that Buddle has to get called up.
And, well, as much as my cardinal rule is that the conventional wisdom is always wrong, and despite the fact that I've never exactly been the guys' biggest fan, it's simply impossible to argue against any more.
- Bradley and the USSF can't continue to sing the praises of MLS, the United States of Americas' Professional First Division, as a place that produces USMNT caliber players and then ignore a guy who's currently shredding every MLS defense he faces - including, yesterday, the league champions - despite having a bigass bulls eye painted on his chest. He's getting marked up tighter than a tick from the minute he gets off the bus and it just isn't making much difference.
- A key element in the LA attack, and a frequent assist partner of Buddles' is a guy named Donovan who, as luck would have it, stands a reasonable chance of being there in South Africa himself. The corner kick chemistry alone ought to be good for one or two all by itself.
- LA's first goal yesterday was a header off of a Donovan corner. The Edson Buddle we saw for years and years would have run straight for the stands and done his "Ain't I Just the Shizzle" routine. Yesterday he headed straight for Donovan while pointing at him in the universally recognized soccer equivalent of "It was you, man". This isn't your fathers' Edson Buddle. This is a "Grown Ass Man".
- He's not a one trick pony. He's scoring with his left, his right and his head. He's scoring off of set pieces and off of one-v-ones and on rebounds and on one touch receptions in the area and on long range lasers. Look in the dictionary under "in the zone" and don't be surprised if there's a picture of Buddle smiling back at you.
Sorry Bob. I know you're the head guy and it's your call and the team is who you say it is and you've been building chemistry for four years and blah blah blah. All true.
But sometimes the decision just gets taken out of your hands.
Note to Philadelphia Union Head Coach Peter Nowak: you need to start bugging your front office about signing Tony Sylva as your new Goalkeeper.
I will freely admit that I have never seen the man play and have no firsthand knowledge of his abilities. Wouldn't know the guy if I fell over him in the VIP room at the West Chester Slap & Tickle.
So what makes me think the Union ought to see about prying (freeing?) the guy away from the legendary Trabzonspor Karadeniz Firtinasi (that's "Black Sea Storm" for you peasants not fluent in Turkish)?
Simple: as the #1 GK for the Senegalese national team, he routinely beats out Bouna Condoul for the starts. And a keeper who's better than the guy Farfar Backe sent out against Dallas yesterday is a guy who's well worth a couple of transcontinental phone calls.
Yeah, yeah, so the guy screwed the pooch against Chivas last week. Nobody's perfect. However, unlike some keepers I could mention, he was riding a 227 minute clean sheet streak when it happened.
More to the point, he was able to put that ugly moment far, far behind him and was nothing short of superb yesterday. His seven save performance even managed to overshadow Dario Salas' stuff of a JPA PK in the 65th minute, a feat he was unable to repeat after Alex Prus pointed to the spot in stoppage time and Angel buried a rocket to give les Taureaux Rouges the win.
It was the kind of game you have to win at home: tough, gritty, far from a work of art but in the end sending Dallas off on the long flight home which will give them plenty of opportunity to ponder what it will take to get off the schnied after three creditable performances have left them vacant in the W column.
Speaking of winless, if there's one thing worse than starting the season 0-1-2 it's starting it 0-4-0. Which is by way of saying that DCUnited looks like an outfit trying to swim the Potomac with an anvil tied around it's neck, an act which, coincidentally, at least some United fans are probably considering this morning.
The Litany of Pain during what BigSoccer Maven Knave has dubbed "The Magical Misery Tour" speaks of a team in serious trouble: 11 goals against vs. 2 goals for. Three shutouts in four matches. Arguably the worst start in MLS history (a couple of other teams have started 0-4 but that was back in the SO days and some of those games ended in draws).
DC Head Coach Curt Onalfo, who's about as popular in The District right now as the head lobbyist for United Klans of America, could well have taken a note from his opposite number, who showed how you use a gently aging star goalscorer by bringing in Brian McBride partway into the second half so that he could deliver either a clever dummy or an even cleverer inside-of-the-heel assist for the go-ahead goal and follow that up with a ridiculous header directly off of a 70 yard Andrew "Lenny" Dykstra down field punt that slipped inside the near post making Troy Perkins look terrible, McBride magical and Fire Honcho Carlos de los Cobos a genius.
Poor Jaime Moreno, on the other hand, keeps getting sent out to play 90 minutes although in Onalfos' defense he doesn't have a lot of other options. Unfortunately, he also may not have a job for much longer if this keeps up.