CARSON, Calif. – Alan Gordon said he’s "thrilled" to be back where he started his pro soccer career, that he considers the LA Galaxy to be "home" and that he’s tickled to be somewhere he’s valued and can contribute to the success.
That hadn’t been happening in San Jose, where his time and ability to help his team had diminished since former coach Frank Yallop’s exit last season. He’d seen only 665 minutes across 15 games, with no goals or assists for Earthquakes head coach Mark Watson this season after scoring 13 goals in their Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign two years ago. His trade to the Galaxy, in exchange for allocation money, was announced Monday.
"It was frustrating," said Gordon, 32, who went to the Galaxy in the 2004 SuperDraft and spent a little more than six-and-a-half years, which included a couple of loan spells, with the club before heading to Chivas USA, Toronto FC and then, in 2011, San Jose. "You always want to play, [and] I feel I have a lot more to give. I don’t think my game has changed at all since 2012, it was just kind of, you know, different coaches like different players, so that’s kind of what happens.
"I was on the sideline ready to go, and I’m happy to be in a better situation."
The Galaxy had added some bulk to their frontline depth during the offseason, but Samuel’s loan to Fluminense was rescinded last month and target forward Rob Friend, who has been dealing with a concussion-related issue for several weeks, has been hit and miss. The 6-foot-3 Gordon provides a dimension LA desires.
"[He’s] a player that knows the Galaxy, we know him, and I think he can help us down the stretch here," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "… He’s a good player. That’s why we have him here. He can hold the ball, he can score goals, he’s competitive. He’s good on set pieces."
Landon Donovan, who has a close relationship with Gordon, said the big forward has been missed, that "the guys love him" and that the attacking options he provides make LA a better team.
"Obviously, his size is a big plus, his ability to hold the ball under pressure," Donovan said. "I think people don’t realize he’s gotten a lot better technically and with his feet as the years have gone on, and he’s much more comfortable playing good soccer [as opposed to a direct approach] as the years have gone on.
"We’re a team that likes to play, but we’re also a team that needs guys who are hungry to score goals. And that’s one of his best attributes and something he’s always had."
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Gordon said he’s most "excited to be part of Landon’s last year, that’s the most special thing for me."
The Galaxy are ecstatic he’s not going against them anymore.
Since he’s been gone, Gordon has netted seven goals in 10 appearances against the Galaxy, mostly off the bench, and a lot of them were big strikes. Three times he scored deep in second-half stoppage, to give Toronto a 2-2 draw in June 2011 and, twice, complete San Jose comebacks from two-goal deficits for a 3-2 win, in May 2012 and June 2013.
"It’s nice to get a guy who’s scoring goals against you on your side, and it’s another threat that we have now," defender Omar Gonzalez said. "I don’t know how Bruce wants to play him right now, but I’m sure he’s going to fit in. He’s a great locker-room guy, a great guy on the field, big presence and something that can really help us."
Gordon, who said he needs to develop his game fitness, thinks Galaxy fans – many of whom have given him a lot of stick since he departed four years ago – will find he’s a different player than they might remember.
"I think that I’m a better player this time around," he said. "I’m a little more polished, I’m more experienced, and I think I’m a better goalscorer than I was. When I was here, I was young and learning, and I think in my travels I did a lot of growing. Hopefully, I can come back and just be able to contribute."