Gyasi Zardes is currently riding a three-game scoring streak and he is guaranteed a spot in the starting lineup for the rest of the season, or is he?
On Monday, LA Galaxy acquired veteran forward Alan Gordon from San Jose Earthquakes and the 32-year-old could give his young colleague a run for his money.
Gordon is right back where it all started. The Galaxy drafted the Long Beach native in 2004 and he played there until he was traded to Chivas USA. Due to his familiarity with some players, staff and manager, Gordon’ mid-season transition should be smooth.
“I’m thrilled to be back. It’s been a few years and obviously this is the team to be on. I’m thrilled to be back in Southern California and with an elite organization,” Gordon said. “This has always been my first club. I was here for a lot of years and it does feel like home.”
Despite not being the same player he was when he scored 13 goals and assisted seven goals to help San Jose win the Supporters Shield in 2012, Gordon is still capable of antagonizing defenders if he has the right players around him.
The 6-foot-3 forward is the carbon copy of what a target forward should look like. In addition to his height, he is broad shouldered, instinctive and not afraid to get rough and dirty with center backs.
The physical presence is just a piece of the puzzle that is Gordon. The journeyman has burgeoned into a mores technical poacher because of the peaks and troughs of his career. He’s had to pick himself up after being condemned to the bench at several clubs and he continues to score goals when everyone counted him off.
“I’m a little bit more polished, I’m more experienced and I think that I’m a better goal scorer than I was. When I was here first, I was young, but I think that my travels helped me grow a lot,” said Gordon. “I think that I’ve improved everywhere. I think that I’ve polished up my finishing and I feel that every part that I’m better.”
When his impressive physique is combined with the experience he’s garnered over the years, the result is a forward that can lift LA over the threshold.
However, one man – Zardes – stands in his way of playing regular minutes.
Since Bruce Arena moved Zardes up top alongside Robbie Keane, the 22-year-old has been unstoppable. His movement, power, work rate and knack for popping up in the right place at the right time has expertly complemented Keane’s transcendent vision and playmaking competency.
Even though Zardes and Gordon play identical roles, the former is a different breed of target forwards. Unlike Gordon, Zardes has the skills and pace to accelerate past multiple defenders and not many players can jump higher than the 6-foot-2 striker. His combination play with midfielders also set him apart.
Because of his unique and unparalleled traits Zardes his able to fill multiple positions in Arena’s starting 11. Prior to his successful stint as a center forward, the Hawthorne native played out wide.
Due to Zardes’ versatility and hot form, Gordon will have to be content with a spot on the bench, but if Zardes doesn’t continue to improve, the experienced talisman will gladly step in to take his place.
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