Buddle expects to have to lift game next week

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Edson Buddle expects to face a much faster tempo next week.

A 10-year veteran of Major League Soccer, the Los Angeles Galaxy forward will be working out with the U.S. national team ahead of the World Cup, one of 30 players hoping to earn a spot on the 23-man roster.

"I think the pace in camp is going to be a little different," Buddle said Thursday. "I expect to be sore. I'm probably going to wake up with a few (sore) muscles I haven't used in awhile."

Buddle leads MLS with nine goals in eight games, earning an invitation after playing just once for the national team — for 11 minutes in an exhibition against Venezuela seven years ago. Two months ago, such a callup would have been hard to envision.

But the 28-year-old from suburban New York City, whose parents are from Jamaica, had hoped years ago for a journey like the one he could take to South Africa.

"I always had a dream when I was younger to play in the World Cup but to have it actually happen caught me off guard," he said. "I didn't know what team I'd be playing for. I didn't think I was going to be with the U.S. When you're so young, you just imagine playing the game at the highest level."

Buddle and Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan, a two-time World Cup veteran, will start workouts with the national team on Monday at Princeton, N.J. Before the Americans leave for the World Cup, they have exhibitions against the Czech Republic on May 25 at East Hartford, Conn., and against Turkey on May 29 at Philadelphia.

Donovan watched Buddle score a career-best 15 league goals for the Galaxy in 2008 and said he noticed a difference in Buddle's approach from two years ago.

"The strides are in his consistency," Donovan said. "I think mentally, he's focused himself every day. That's the difference. When you do that, then you get rewarded."

Donovan has been a big part of the success of Buddle and the Galaxy, leading the league with nine assists this season.

Among the forwards heading to camp, only Hull's Jozy Altidore appears assured of a spot on coach Bob Bradley's roster. Also competing are Houston's Brian Ching, Puebla's Herculez Gomez, Aris' Eddie Johnson and Real Salt Lake's Robbie Findley,

Ching returned Thursday night for the first time since a hamstring injury April 1. Johnson may have hurt a hamstring Wednesday.

"I think my chance is as good as anyone's," Buddle said. "Bob probably believes in me because he called me into camp. I don't think there's any added pressure, especially (since) I haven't been in any (recent) camps at all. Hopefully, being around quality players in camp will raise my game."

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who ran the national team at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, expects Buddle to be competitive for a World Cup berth. The U.S. opens against England on June 12.

"He's arguably the best forward they have in that target position," Arena said. "I think he'll do fine."