STANFORD, Calif. — For most of the 50,028 at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night, Alan Gordon was the all-conquering hero. With his first two goals of 2013, including a towering, 93rd-minute game-winning header, Gordon helped the San Jose Earthquakes complete a shocking 3-2 comeback victory against the LA Galaxy.
Yet after the game, Gordon’s focus was not on his heroics. Instead, he was concerned about taking away from the performance of fellow forward Steven Lenhart, who Gordon replaced in the 64th minute after the bleeding from Lenhart’s head wound couldn’t be adequately staunched.
“It’s always a great moment” to score a late game-winner, Gordon said and he beat a hasty exit from the Quakes’ locker room at Stanford Stadium. “Lenny deserved those goals; he is always doing the dirty work for us. I feel bad coming in and stealing the glory.”
Gordon needn’t have worried, because his teammates are well aware that if the Quakes (5-7-6) are going to rise from their eighth-place standing in the West back into playoff position, they will need more nights like Saturday from the 31-year-old target man.
Gordon nodded in Shea Salinas’ left-wing cross at the near post in the 68th minute to get the Quakes on the board, then headed in at almost the exact same spot in stoppage time, redirecting a looping pass from Sam Cronin for the victory.
“I think people underestimate Gordon,” Quakes midfielder Rafael Baca told MLSsoccer.com. “Unluckily, he hasn’t had the chances [this season]. Today, he had them and he put them away. I’m really happy for him. I told him after the game I was proud of him. He deserved it.”
Gordon, who tallied a career-best 13 goals in 2012, was held scoreless through the first half of the season while struggling to regain his fitness and form after two off-season surgeries and missing four games due to suspension. That was one of the biggest reasons why San Jose’s high-powered offense stalled out through 17 matches.
“[Gordon] is a beast,” Salinas told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s shown that type of fight all year, he just hasn’t been fortunate enough to get on the [scoresheet]. Hopefully, he can continue that.”
With star forward Chris Wondolowski (US) and critical winger Marvin Chavez (Honduras) both being called in for Gold Cup duty — meaning they could miss as many as four MLS matches in July — the Quakes will be counting on Gordon to help pick up the slack, presumably alongside Lenhart on San Jose’s front line.
“Any goalscorer goes through spells like that,” San Jose interim coach Mark Watson said of Gordon. “He’s had some physical issues this year. He’s injured, but he’s playing through it. That guy is a true character and true battler. I knew that, just because of the way he is, and the attitude and the work rate that he brings to practice every day, he was eventually going to get it. He got some great service, but those two goals were fantastic.”
So, Gordon was asked, is this a springboard for a second-half Quakes surge?
“That’s something that will usually do it,” Gordon said of the comeback. “Hopefully we can put together two good performances next week to follow it up.”