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Toronto FC's Alan Gordon Strikes Back Against Former Galaxy Team In Draw

Jonathan Kendrick |
June 12, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer


Toronto FC's Alan Gordon, pictured here from his time with the Galaxy, scored two late goals. (Jon Broxton via Wikimedia Commons)
Toronto FC's Alan Gordon, pictured here from his time with the Galaxy, scored two late goals. (Jon Broxton via Wikimedia Commons)
Toronto FC striker Alan Gordon probably couldn't even dream up a story this good.

The former Galaxy player and Long Beach, Calif. native entered Saturday's match at the Home Depot Center late in the first half because of an injury to a teammate and scored two goals, including a brilliant volley in the fourth minute of second half stoppage that earned his club a 2-2 draw.

"It was just special to get a goal against my former team in the 94th minute," Gordon said. "It's mostly special because I don't score goals like that.”

His effort should be an early candidate for the goal of the year in MLS. Gordon laced a volleyed shot off the inside corner of the far post, sending the ball screaming past Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders and into the back of the net.

Gordon's tally cancelled out the Galaxy's go-ahead goal, scored only three minutes earlier by forward Juan Pablo Angel.

"We thought we'd won it," Los Angeles midfielder David Beckham said of his teammate Angel's late goal.

Angel had sent the 20,675 in attendance into a frenzy in the 91st minute, banging home a volley of his own between the near post and Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

"When you manage to score a goal that late in the game, that should be enough," Angel said.

With the draw, the Galaxy (8-2-7, 31 points) remained in first place in MLS's Western Conference, six points ahead of FC Dallas, while Toronto (2-5-8, 14 points) stayed in sixth place in the East.

The game's fireworks weren't reserved solely for the final five minutes.

While most fans were still settling into their seats, Chris Birchall got them on their feet with a goal only 100 seconds into the match.

Galaxy forward Miguel Lopez got loose down the left flank and played an on-target pass across the retreating Toronto defense to Birchall, who was galloping down the center of the park.

Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei got a hand to Birchall's low shot but could not slow the ball's momentum enough to keep it out. The goal was Birchall's first of the season.

Los Angeles continued to attack, nearly grabbing a second goal in the 10th minute. Lopez cracked a shot from the top of the box that had Frei beaten, but the ball caromed off of the goalpost.

Galaxy midfielder Juninho missed the match for his wedding in his native Brazil, opening up a spot in the starting lineup for 22-year-old Michael Stephens.

Stephens mostly held his own in the midfield, and sent a sizzling shot wide of the Frei’s far post in the 22nd minute.

Leading 1-0 at the intermission, Los Angeles continued to attack in the second half. A clever turn and pass by Beckham left Barrett open in the penalty box in the 66th minute, but the forward pivoted and fired wide of the far post.

Gordon grabbed his first goal two minutes later. Toronto defender Danleigh Borman sent in a looping cross from the left side, while the 29-year-old Gordon snuck between Galaxy defenders Todd Dunivant and A.J. DeLaGarza and headed home past a diving Saunders.

The goal ended the Galaxy’s shutout streak at 478 minutes, the second longest scoreless run in MLS this season.

Following his goal Gordon blew kisses at the Galaxy fans, some of whom had been serenading him with chants of "L.A. Reject" throughout the night.

"The fans were giving me shtick [even] when I was [playing for Los Angeles]," Gordon joked after the match.

Gordon sent the fans, and his former manager, home unhappy after the draw.

"We got outcompeted at the end of the game on that play," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "Give Alan Gordon a lot of credit. He had a special effort on that play."

News and Notes

-- The United States suffered its first ever loss in the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday night, going down 2-1 to Panama in Tampa, Fla. The Panamanians scored two first half goals and the Americans could only muster Clarence Goodson’s headed goal in the 68th minute.

Luis Tejada opened the scoring in the 19th minute, pouncing on a loose ball in front of Tim Howard’s goal and scoring while falling down. Howard had made an excellent save on an open header by Armando Cooper but Tejada beat him and Goodson to the rebound and snuck the ball over the goal line.

La Marea Roja doubled its advantage in the 36th minute. American defender Tim Ream rashly flung his leg at the ball in an attempted clearance but missed and brought down Panama’s Blas Perez in the penalty box. Perez was in the far corner of the box and looked to be dribbling away from goal, making Ream's challenge even more puzzling. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez stepped up and roofed his penalty kick into the top of Howard’s goal, over the outstretched arm of the diving American keeper.

The United States pulled one back in the 68th minute off of a Landon Donovan free kick. Michael Bradley used his head to flick the ball on net, and a charging Goodson headed home at the back post. Donovan, Bradley and substitute forward Chris Wondolowksi all had opportunities to equalize for the Americans but none of them could convert.

Despite the loss, the United States are still in good position to qualify for the tournament's quarterfinals. A win over Guadeloupe on Tuesday night in Kansas City, Kan. would guarantee the Americans passage into the knockout round.

-- Meanwhile, Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts' Jamaica team is unbeaten in its first two Gold Cup matches. Ricketts posted back-to-back shutouts in wins over Grenada (4-0) and Guatemala (2-0). Jamaica, which has already booked its place in the quarterfinals, finishes group play Monday night in New York against Honduras.

-- David Beckham picked up his league-leading seventh yellow card for a late tackle on Toronto midfieldler Tony Tchani in the 29th minute. With his next yellow card, Beckham will be suspended for a match according to MLS rules.

Tchani left the game in 34th minute, nursing a leg injury that resulted from Beckham’s tackle. After the game, Tchani decried the play from Beckham on Twitter, "Thank God my ankle is not broken n that's a shame how big stars can do whatever they want n don't get penalized," Tchani tweeted. "How can this **** advance???"

-- With Donovan and Juninho out of the lineup, Arena tried a different formation, with Lopez lining up just under the striker pairing of Angel and Barrett and forming the top of a midfield diamond. The experiment yielded the early goal but Beckham said the team is still getting used to the new look. "We were getting in each other's way out there," Beckham said. "That happened a little bit too much."

-- Making Gordon's night even more dramatic is that he was nursing an adductor injury coming into the match and was a late scratch from the Toronto starting eleven. He clearly did just fine coming off the bench.

-- Next up for the Galaxy is a trip to Denver to play the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids on Saturday night. The Rapids (5-3-7, 22 points) are tied for third in the Western Conference and are unbeaten in their last nine matches.

Reach Jonathan by email. Follow him on Twitter, @jjkendrick.



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