TFC refugee in uncharted territory

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Somewhere in the MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement is a little talked-about clause.

"Any player who leaves the employ of Toronto FC is guaranteed to see a marked improvement in performance."

OK, I made that bit up about the clause. But you get the point.

Last season, two former Toronto FC strikers, Jeff Cunningham and Conor Casey, finished 1-2 in the MLS scoring race.

This year, another TFC refugee is on a scorching scoring pace. So good, in fact, that he's already making history.

Edson Buddle, the man who slid the pass to Danny Dichio for the first goal in TFC franchise history, has scored seven goals in four games this season for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Actually, he's scored every one of the Galaxy's goals so far.

And, with the Galaxy boasting the best defence in the league, it has been enough to get the juggernauts going with four straight wins.

The Galaxy didn't give up a goal until this past weekend's marquee game of the week, the MLS Cup rematch with Real Salt Lake. Two weeks ago, against Western power Houston, the Galaxy didn't allow a shot on goal.

But Buddle's start should have people whispering about his chances to get into the U.S. squad for the World Cup.

Coach Bob Bradley has some interesting choices to make, and Buddle could be a natural fit; he has become Landon Donovan's target of choice in L.A., and with Donovan a surefire starter for the American team, it could have a chance to reignite that chemistry in South Africa.

Herculez Gomez, who is dominating the Mexican League scoring charts, is also mentioned, but Buddle has that Donovan factor in his favour.

In case you are wondering, Roy Lassiter holds the record for goals in a season, with 27 for the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny. But he did it in an era when MLS games had overtimes and shootouts (ugh), and there were 32 games on the schedule as compared to 30 in the modern day. So Buddle's at a disadvantage, especially if he has to miss some games in June because of that tournament in South Africa.

But, Buddle is scoring them every which way -- off his head, beating defenders in the box, long-range strikes.

If he doesn't unanimously win the player-of-the-month honour, well, that means there's a homer in some other MLS city that's not L.A., who is on the voting panel.

After some research at MLS headquarters, we learned that Buddle is in uncharted territory when it comes to hot starts to a season. This comes right from MLS director of communications Will Kuhns.

"Edson Buddle's seven goals are the most any player has had after four games in MLS history. Three players had six after four games on the year -- Raul Diaz Arce (D.C. United, 1997), Ante Razov (Chicago Fire, 1999) and Carlos Ruiz (Los Angeles Galaxy, 2002)."

To jog your memories, TFC traded Buddle to the Galaxy in 2007 for central defender Tyrone Marshall, soon after he assisted on the Dichio opener. It looked like a good deal at the time, as Marshall was needed to stabilize a weak back line. But, after Marshall was sent to Seattle in 2009 for allocation money, the Buddle deal became horribly one-sided in L.A.'s favour.


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