Reporting from Seattle — Edson Buddle became a soccer player the same way Kennedys become politicians or Rockefellers become bankers.
He was born into it.
His first toy was a soccer ball, left in his crib by a Jamaican-immigrant father who played professionally on two continents.
And then there's that name.
Edson's father originally wanted to go with Pele but thought that might bring too much pressure. So he settled instead on the Brazilian legend's birth name, Edson.
"A positive name brings positive results," says Winston Buddle, now one of New York's most prominent youth soccer coaches. "That's the reason why I chose Edson. Hopefully it would bring good fortune."
Did it ever.
On Sunday, when Buddle leads the Galaxy against the Seattle Sounders in the first round of the MLS playoffs, he will be looking to put a bow on the most spectacular season of his 10-year all-star career.
He finished second in the league with a career-best 17 regular-season goals, losing the scoring title on the final weekend. Seven of those goals were game-winners and in six of the team's MLS-leading 18 victories, Buddle accounted for all of the Galaxy's scoring.
"He was on fire," Galaxy assistant coach Cobi Jones says. "He did some amazing things."
And he did them all despite losing nearly two months to his first World Cup playing on the U.S. team, making him an easy choice as one of three finalists for the league's most-valuable-player award.
"I didn't expect it and I still don't believe I'm one of the finalists. It wasn't one of my goals. My goal is to play well," Buddle, 29, says.
Before this year, though, his goal might simply have been to play regularly. So last winter Buddle adopted an intense strength and conditioning program, one that incorporated yoga to improve his flexibility.
His teammates noticed the difference — both in conditioning and in commitment.
"From the end of last year to the beginning of this year there was something in him that changed," says Landon Donovan, Buddle's teammate with the Galaxy and the U.S. team. "Every time I came in during the off-season I saw Edson in here working hard.
"Almost every day during the year he's in early doing something in the weight room to make himself stronger, to keep himself healthy. And then he's translated it onto the field."
Scoring has never been a problem. Although injuries and other issues have prevented Buddle from starting all of his team's matches in any season, his 90 career goals ranks seventh on the all-time MLS list.
"This isn't a new phenomenon," Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena says. "In every sport, athletes get into a rhythm where they're unstoppable. The ball at times looked like a balloon for Edson in front of the goal and it seemed to be attracted to him.
"I don't think we'd be where we are today as a team if it wasn't for Edson."
Nor would Edson be where he is without a doting father who taught him to dribble at the same time he was teaching him to walk and took him to soccer games before he began talking.
"He kept me around it," the younger Buddle says. "He didn't force me to play. It was something that I enjoy just because I saw his friends kind of embrace the sport. I wanted to follow."
By the time he was 8, Buddle was playing in a local parks league, scoring six times in his first game. By the time he was playing for an all-state team in middle school, the father knew his boy was something special.
"Watching and being around the game really makes a big difference," says Winston Buddle, 53. "It's one thing to teach and to show up for a class on the field. And it's another thing to be just part of it.
"Being around friends and family that really know the game, he just fit in."
And along the way Edson Buddle, who started life with a name to live up to, has managed to make one for himself. Just as his father had hoped.
"I couldn't be prouder and I couldn't ask for anything more," Winston Buddle says. "This is a dream come true."