SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Having celebrated his 30th birthday without once getting a call from the US national team, San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon was convinced that door was well and truly closed to him. After all, here was a guy with 22 goals in his first eight MLS seasons, coming off surgery last year to repair multiple muscle problems.
That’s why it’s tough for Gordon to fully describe his reaction to being named as part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man squad in the run-up to the Americans’ history-making win against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca last week.
“It was awesome,” Gordon said. “I was soaking it in. It’s a different level, and it was really special just to be there and see what it’s like at the top level -- and know that’s an obtainable goal now. If I continue to work hard and do good things, that option’s there. It’s good to know. It keeps me going, and I’m excited for the future.”
WATCH: Gordon's latest MLS goal vs. 'Caps
Gordon’s been having plenty of great feelings this season. After a grueling winter and spring spent rehabilitating his surgically repaired abdominal and hip muscles, Gordon has a career-best nine goals -- nearly double his previous single-season high of five goals in 2008 -- in just 823 minutes this year, helping the Quakes to a 14-6-5 record.
It’s a rebirth that’s tinged with some regret over what might have been for Gordon, who used soccer to turn his life around after battling his share of personal problems.
“I think having kids really changed my whole outlook on life and on soccer and really giving my all,” Gordon said. “I don’t think that I was reaching my full potential when I was younger. I was maybe not putting in the effort that I should have. I found that late in my career. And I found hard work pays off. It’s sad to say it took a long time to do, but I’m just glad it’s working.”
Having finished a two-game suspension -- one for yellow-card accumulation, another for seeing red in the same match against Chicago on July 28 -- Gordon will step back into the Quakes’ starting lineup Saturday against Colorado. That makes life easier for coach Frank Yallop, who had to replace forward Steven Lenhart after he received a red card last weekend in Montreal.
“He’s ready to go,” Yallop said of Gordon. “He looks sharp. He’s having a good season and he’s hungry to play.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.