SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When Alan Gordon came to the San Jose Earthquakes in 2011, he grabbed the opportunity to reinvent his on-field persona, going from an injury-prone journeyman to a 13-goal star last season and -- for one memorable October night in Antigua -- a playmaker for the US national team.
Beginning this month, Gordon will have to look to rebuild his off-field reputation in similar fashion.
Gordon has a significant hill to climb in that area, one of his own making after being caught by TV cameras directing a homophobic slur at Portland Timbers captain Will Johnson in the 60th minute of the Timbers’ eventual 1-0 victory Sunday night.
“I’m going to use this for the good,” Gordon told reporters before Quakes training Wednesday. “That’s what I’ve decided to do. People that know me know what type of person I am. I will choose to use this in the best way that I can ... I will do several things to let people know that it was a mistake.”
For that act, Gordon was handed a three-game suspension Tuesday by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. Combined with the standard one-game ban for seeing yellow-yellow-red in Portland, Gordon is unavailable to the Quakes until May 11. He’ll miss games at home against the Timbers (this Sunday), Montreal Impact (May 4) and Toronto FC (May 8) and a trip to Chivas USA (April 27).
Gordon did not go into much detail on what precipitated the incident, which he felt stemmed in part from unhappiness at a match that was not unfolding according to San Jose’s game plan.
“I was frustrated about how the game was going,” Gordon said. “I was frustrated, and we were exchanging some words. And I said the wrong thing. I made a mistake. And that came from somewhere I didn’t even know was in me. I don’t use that language. And it came out.”
Gordon said he’s working with the team on community-service ideas, with an eye towards making “the most impact in the community.”
Quakes president David Kaval released a statement Monday describing himself as being “appalled” by Gordon’s language. But Kaval said Wednesday that while the club repudiates the language used, it still supports Gordon as he looks to make amends.
Gordon was buoyed by his conversation with former MLS winger and US national teamer Robbie Rogers, who came out as gay earlier this year while simultaneously announcing his soccer retirement at age 25. The two were linked by Quakes forward Steven Lenhart, who played with Rogers while with the Columbus Crew for three seasons.
“I wanted to reach out to [Rogers] and make him know that my intentions were not to hurt,” Gordon said. “And he fully understood ... He made me feel a lot better.”
However, Gordon knows that some people won’t forgive and forget that readily. All he can do is try to change their minds with his actions.
“If this is the only thing that they focus on, then they’re going to believe what they believe,” Gordon said. “But if they really want to know who I am, then stay tuned, because this is not the end of it. The story doesn’t just stop. This is not the person I am.
“If you really want to know the person I am, then come see me on a personal level. Come talk to me," Gordon added. "And I think that you’d be reassured [with] who I am, really. This is what’s going to define me, is how I move forward from this.”