The fact that Alan Gordon has made 245 MLS appearances, since making his debut with LA Galaxy in September, 2004, is testament to his character, and one which he displays every time he steps onto a soccer field.
For Gordon, life as a professional soccer player was not handed to him on a plate. Everything he has achieved has been due to grit, determination, drive, passion, loyalty, and an inner belief, and it is those qualities which have served him well these past 12 years.
He was originally selected by LA Galaxy in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. That year introduced the likes of Freddy Adu (#1), Chad Marshall (2), Clarence Goodson (7), Clint Dempsey (8), Chris Wingert (12), Ned Grabavoy (14), Matt Pickens (19) and Michael Bradley (36) to MLS fans. Gordon was eventually selected in the sixth round, 53rd overall.
Unable to break into a strong Galaxy lineup, he joined Portland Timbers, then of the A-League. In that 2004 season he was named the A-League’s Rookie of the Year, was a finalist for MVP, and finished as the league’s joint top scorer, alongside Dante Washington, after netting 17 times in 27 games.
Gordon’s form for the Timbers alerted the Galaxy, who signed him on loan in early September, 2004 for the remainder of the MLS season. Incidentally, Gordon took a developmental spot on the Galaxy roster, made possible by LA trading Ricky Lewis to the Rapids at the end of August.
Eight months after being drafted by the Galaxy, and following time at the Timbers, Alan Eugene Gordon II was able to make his MLS debut on September 25, 2004. He replaced Carlos Ruiz in stoppage time of the Galaxy’s 0-0 home tie at San Jose Earthquakes. The Galaxy lineup included Cobi Jones, Kevin Hartman, Peter Vagenas, and Alejandro Moreno, as well as Jovan Kirovski and Tyrone Marshall. Kirovski would move on to the Rapids, while Marshall began and ended his career in Colorado. The Quakes, meanwhile, had Brian Mullan, Landon Donovan, Pat Onstad, Jeff Agoos, Dwayne De Rosario and Craig Waibel among their squad.
Home fans love him, while opposition followers loathe him. He is fiercely loyal to whichever jersey he happens to be wearing, which has previously been Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy (two spells), Chivas USA, Toronto FC and San Jose Earthquakes. He is a battler, a fighter, a figure you know will be in where the boots are flying, and fearless in the face of unfavorable odds.
Gordon has not always been a regular for his club sides. Of 245 MLS appearances, 116 have come as a substitute. And, yet, he has still scored 52 goals and tallied 28 assists (14 of those goals have been game winners, seven have been after the 90th minute). His best season came for the Quakes in 2012, when a teammate of Sam Cronin’s. That year, in which San Jose claimed the Supporters’ Shield, Gordon scored a MLS single season career-high 13 goals from 23 appearances, of which only 13 were starts.
Incidentally, it was a game in which Gordon started but did not finish which he is often reminded of. The date was July 21, 2007 and LA Galaxy were playing Chelsea in an exhibition match. Gordon was replaced after 78 minutes by David Beckham, for what would be the Englishman’s first Galaxy appearance.
The Long Beach, California native has often been a thorn in the side of the Rapids. In 27 appearances against Colorado, Gordon has scored eight goals, of which three have been game winners. Despite being a physical player, Gordon has been dismissed only four times in his MLS career, but not since 2013. His first ‘early shower’ came against Colorado during the 2008 season, following an altercation with Facundo Erpen, who also saw red.
The 35-year-old has been a part of two MLS Cup-winning sides, while claiming a U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield. He has twice represented the USA at senior level, and also has experience of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Gordon has been labeled a ‘journeyman’ and a ‘super-sub’. One of the best aerial players in the league, his former Galaxy teammate AJ DeLaGarza recently referred to him as ‘physical and demanding’. He, of course, meant that Gordon places demands on those whose job it is to keep him at bay. But Alan Gordon has spent a career placing great demands on himself, and it is that desire to be the best that he can which has made Gordon vital to any squad he's been a part of.