GALAXY: Might Edson Buddle return?

Edson Buddle has been released by cash-strapped German club FC Ingolstadt, turned down a contract offer from Belgium's KV Westerlo and failed to suitably impress during a week's trial at Everton.

With Europe's transfer window closing (Norway's aside), might Major League Soccer be on the former Galaxy forward's horizon?

If so, guess who has first right of refusal? Yep, the Galaxy.

No word on Buddle's plans, but his agent earlier this month, just before his trial with Everton, acknowledged that MLS was an option, and former L.A. general manager Alexi Lalas, an ESPN analyst, posted Monday on his Twitter account: “I'm hearing Edson Buddle is coming back” to the Galaxy. It seems clear the tall goal scorer -- 15 goals in 2008, 19 in 2010, 44 in four seasons with L.A. -- would rather stay in Europe, for good reason: Ingolstadt, a minor second-tier club, was paying him about three times the $178,448 he made in base salary in 2010, his final MLS season.

Buddle, who went to Europe after his phenomenal start to the 2010 season won him a spot on the U.S. roster for the World Cup in South Africa, is a fast, athletic striker with deceptive skill and a nose for the net. The Galaxy replaced him with Juan Pablo Angel last season, then upgraded in August to Irish star Robbie Keane.

The Galaxy retained Buddle's MLS rights, through somewhat complicated specifics within the league's roster rules, when he left the league.

A club can't have too many forwards, but Buddle's contract might be difficult for the Galaxy to fit under the salary cap should he choose to return to MLS. Bruce Arena last week said the club has allocation money to play with, “and we have more than we've had since I've been here.”

Allocation money, a valuable commodity dispensed by the league, can be used against the cap. The Galaxy, for instance, received allocation money in November from Montreal in exchange for Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

The Galaxy could trade their rights to Buddle, receiving something they really need -- a dominant central defender -- or more allocation money to bring in a foreign acquisition at less-than-designated-player numbers.

The winter transfer window across most of Europe closed Monday, when Ingolstadt announced Buddle's release on its website. Buddle actually left the club last month to look for new employment.

He trialed at Westerlo after the week with Everton, but a club secretary told the Yanks Abroad website that Buddle “left last week. We were expecting him to sign last week just before the St. Trond game. He decided not to sign.”