Galaxy forward Edson Buddle fouls Real Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)
Edson Buddle was on something of a sabbatical with the German bundesliga last spring so he missed the Galaxy's stumbling start, one in which Coach Bruce Arena's team won only two of its first six games.
But he knows how the season ended: with four consecutive victories and a Major League Soccer title. As a result Buddle, a high-scoring striker, and the Galaxy are far from panicking after winning only once in four tries this season.
"Bruce said this year we started out better for some reason –possession-wise — than last year. And they won the whole thing," Buddle said before pausing, a quizzical look crossing his face.
"I don't know what that means," he continued with a smile. "But we'll take one game at a time."
Buddle and the Galaxy got started on it Saturday at the Home Depot Center, returning from a two-week break to play host to the New England Revolution. (For results go to latimes.com.) And that pause in an otherwise crowded schedule provided some much-needed practice time for a team that didn't fully come together until only a couple days before its first game.
"We were able to train and work on things that we need to improve on," defender Todd Dunivant. "That's the biggest thing probably that we missed from the first four games of the season. We didn't have time to really train and correct any shortcomings that we had.
"Little adjustments can make a big difference."
Especially after starting the season with a blitz of four games — two in the CONCACAF Champions League and two MLS games — in 12 days, a challenging stretch for any team but one made more difficult by the fact six Galaxy starters are 30 or older.
"We needed it," midfielder David Beckham, 36, said of the rest. "We're coming together. It's been a good week of training. Obviously you always want to play games. But … the break's definitely helped us."
The two areas where they've need the most help has been the back line, where the Galaxy is trying to replace the injured Omar Gonzalez with rookie Tommy Meyer and journeyman Andrew Boyens, and the front line where Buddle, the team's leading scorer in 2010, has had trouble meshing with Irish international Robbie Keane.
"We worked a lot together," Buddle said. "Robbie wants the ball [so] that kind of frees me up close to the goal. And I don't have to find myself coming back.
"Each year it's something new during the season. And that's fine. Being more creative and refining some of your game, that's just part of it."
Buddle made another move during the break that figures to make him even more comfortable, checking out of the hotel that had been his home for nearly two months and into a downtown apartment, taking a three-month lease that will give him time to find more permanent digs.
"I got settled in off the field, which is just as important," he said. "Doing little things that I couldn't do while we were so busy playing games."