If you are a Rapids fan, chances are, you don’t like Alan Gordon much. He has a reputation amongst Western Conference fans as a crybaby and a cheap-shot artist. If soccer were a sushi bar; carefully crafted dishes of precision and beauty, then Gordon is a chili dog: a lumbering, clumsy masher, lacking in finesse or subtlety. He’s just a big galoot that smashes headers in the box after punching your guy in the kidneys.
A few years back, Gordon checked in at the 72’ minute mark in Colorado against the Rapids and I tweeted this:
That feeling of dread you feel when Alan Gordon checks in. #LAvCOL #Rapids96— Rapids Rabbi (@rapidsrabbi) May 3, 2015
Just two minutes later ...
Goal: Alan Gordon heads home for @LAGalaxy from a right-wing corner. (75) 1-1 #LAvCOL— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) May 3, 2015
So, you probably hate him. That’s cool.
But if pro wrestlers can go from hero to heel and back to hero again, than why not professional soccer players? Alan Gordon, a 13-year veteran of MLS, former bash brother, and two-time MLS Cup winner, may be a villain for fans in Colorado. But that should all change if he pulls on a burgundy kit for us this year.
If he joins the club, as reported on Burgundy Wave a few days ago, I implore all Rapids fans to embrace Alan Gordon with a whole heart. There are lots of reasons.
First, yes, he’s a mercenary. A player that gets paid a lot to switch allegiances is a mercenary. But c’mon. This isn’t 1966 anymore. In America today, many employees change their workplaces as often as they change their shoes. Loyalty to your corporate office, with its headquarters in Zurich, its bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, and its shareholders predominantly in China, is dumb. An athlete has a ticking clock on how long their bodies will last as an asset in the sporting world: they need to maximize their profits before their knees and their muscles and everything else yield to father time. Alan Gordon needs to get paid. I’m fine with that. Some of my favorite Star Wars characters are bounty hunters. Don’t judge.
Second, yeah, he might be a little dirty sometimes. But I bet his teammates will be glad to be playing with him instead of against him.
Third, we need a fierce and physical target striker to come on late to get that critical goal. Gordon has 52 goals in 245 MLS matches stretching back to his first year in the league in 2004. The 35 year old also has 2 caps for the USMNT.
Fourth, someone must teach the dark arts of being a lone target striker to Dominique Badji. Gordon can do it. Badji seems to be growing each season with the Rapids, but if he hopes to be a long term presence in this league, he’ll need to add a few more tricks to his repertoire. Former Bash Brother Gordon needs to pass on the bash to the next generation.
Fifth, I think Gordon is misjudged. Sure, opposing fans hate him on the pitch because he’s physical and mouthy and occasionally throws a cheap shot. But off the pitch, Gordon seems like a good dude. Here’s a passage from Grant Wahl’s book ‘The Beckham Experiment’ (which you should buy):
...Gordon was the typical mid-level MLS player, circa 2007. His microscopic salary ($30,870) was the result of the league’s salary cap, which limited the team to $2.1 million for it’s whole roster. (...) How do you live in LA on a near-minimum-wage income? Gordon had to share an apartment in Redondo Beach with forward Gavin Glinton (salary: $50,000) and defender Kyle Veris ($17,700), and for the past three years Gordon had earned extra money by coaching a girls’ soccer team on the side, many days racing from Galaxy practice to the girls’ practice on the crowded LA freeways.
I have to like a guy that is that much of a grinder: who goes from sharing an apartment with two guys for $875 to hitting the clubs in Beverly Hills and getting bottle service with David Beckham, the most recognizable soccer player on the planet.
Sixth, and finally, this.
OK, maybe you think ‘that’s a beautiful man.’
Maybe you think ‘I can’t say I’m into that, but the dude is a character.’
Maybe you threw up a little in your mouth.
Yes. Yes to all three. Let us hope to embrace the totality that is Alan Gordon.