Arizonan Gordon scores one for the Quakes
Plus: Papa returns to the FC Tucson fold
Gilbert-raised Alan Gordon has been battling injuries this season, but he made the most of his time off the bench this weekend with his San Jose Earthquakes. He scored an 88th-minute goal that secured a draw with CD Chivas USA.
The goal kept the Quakes near the top of the Western Conference table — not enough for the top spot, but it put their point total ahead of teams that enjoyed preseason hype like Los Angeles and Kansas City.
"There was not much to the goal," Gordon said. "I just did a hard run to the near post. Sam Garza did a good job of coming in and being dangerous ... he put a great ball in right on my head and I buried it."
It's easy to see why Gordon has earned the reputation as a quiet but diligent player.
Gordon played junior college soccer for Yavapai College before moving on to Oregon State University. After finishing his college career, he was picked by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2004 draft. He didn't make the team, instead playing for the Portland Timbers, which was then a second-division side.
He made quite a mark there. He scored 17 goals and was named the League's rookie of the year. The splash he made was enough to get him a spot back with the Galaxy, where he played in the final games of the season.
Gordon made a name for himself as a hardworking player who could be counted on off the bench and as an occasional starter. The first casual fans knew of him, however, was on June 21, 2007. The Galaxy was playing a friendly against Chelsea FC. Gordon was subbed out in the 78th minute to give David Beckham his first chance to play in a Galaxy uniform.
Gordon doesn't get asked about it as much anymore, but doesn't mind the association.
"It was good to get my name in the history books, one way or the other. It was a special game," he said.
"It was a buzz like I've never seen before. This country needed it," he continued. "It really catapulted soccer in this country to where it is today."
Gordon was traded by the Galaxy in the 2010 season. He played for a few teams until last July, when he moved to the Earthquakes. He's hoping to be long-term for the team.
"I like where I am. I'm really comfortable under [Earthquakes coach] Frank [Yallop]," he said. "It seems to be a good fit for me here."
"My family is happy. I hope to make this one last a while, like my Galaxy stint."
Injuries kept Gordon from making the trip when the Earthquakes came to Tucson for preseason training, but he's got some thoughts on so many MLS teams making Arizona a preseason home.
"I'm really impressed and excited that teams are starting to move out that way. Arizona has been hungry for professional soccer for a while now," he said. "I'm happy to see them getting a taste of what could be if a team was moved there."
"I think it would be a great fit. I'm an advocate for a team moving out there. It would be great."
Gordon's Earthquakes are scheduled to take on the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium in San Jose.
Papa's got a brand new team
Dominic Papa will be back in the line-up for FC Tucson this weekend after getting released by the San Antonio Scorpions.
The Scorpions picked up several MLS defenders who had been waived by their teams before the season started. The addition of veteran ex-MLSers like Blake Wagner and Ryan Cochrane has been good for the team, but it left a younger defender like Papa with only a spot at the end of the bench.
Still, Papa is optimistic.
"It feels great. I love the atmosphere here," he said.
The Scorpions are a professional team, albeit a second division one. Papa addressed the difference in level between the two teams.
"I was actually surprised when I came down here for my first practice last night," he said "It was with [FC Tucson fitness coach] Ron Fox and he kicked my butt."
"The level down here, while it's not as high when you are talking about the quality of soccer, the intensity is higher. All these young guys want to make a name for themselves. It's very good to see," he said.
Some of Papa's teammates have seen him before, but fellow defender Kareem Smith has only seen him in practices.
"I see a very determined player," said Smith, a Trinidad and Tobago defender. "Strong, confident guy. I think his experience will help us."
Papa is looking forward to playing again with Conor Spence.
"Conor Spence is a fantastic defender," he said. "With him back there, no one is going to get by us."