SAN JOSE, Calif. – What the San Jose Earthquakes got last weekend was 22 happy minutes’ worth of flowing hair, hold-up play and physical presence from the 2013 debut of Alan Gordon.
What the Quakes didn’t get were the goals they needed to salvage a point from what ended as a 2-0 loss in Houston.
In other words, even as San Jose prepare to potentially unleash Gordon and his partner in crime, fellow target man Steven Lenhart, against Vancouver on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live), the simple fact that both men are back on the field after offseason surgery does not guarantee an immediate return to the “Goonies” comeback madness of last year.
“It’s not something that’s just going to happen right off the bat,” Gordon told MLSsoccer.com this week. “Guys have got to get game fit, they’ve got to get sharp. Just getting integrated is one thing, but getting back into form is a completely other thing. Most teams, that’s what preseason is for.”
For Gordon and Lenhart, essentially, this is preseason. Their internal calendars still read "February" even as everyone else enters April. Coach Frank Yallop acknowledged that it’s probably “two or three or four weeks” until Gordon, who had a pair of procedures done, is at 100 percent again; presumably Lenhart, who needed a meniscus tear repaired, is on a similar timetable.
“It’s up to us to give [Gordon] the chances to score and do his thing,” Yallop said. “It’s obviously up to Alan to make sure that he takes care of that foot and hip that he had the surgeries on. . . . You can’t expect these guys to come back and [say], ‘the cavalry’s arrived.’”
San Jose opened 2-2-1 against a difficult schedule; four of those five opponents were playoff teams last year, as were the Whitecaps, buying themselves time for Gordon and Lenhart – and, eventually, midfielder Marvin Chávez and right back Steven Beitashour – to get up to speed. So even though fans may be hoping to see the Quakes reprising their greatest hits of 2012, Gordon is just fine with the way things are progressing.
“For me, the most important thing I learned from last year is that just getting points and battling now is fine,” Gordon said. “We want to be hitting our stride come the playoffs. This is OK. I’m not hitting the panic button. I don’t think anybody is.”