MLS on Timbers: Alan Gordon
With the advent of Major League Soccer coming to Portland in just a few short months, we reached out to a number of current MLS players who have some tie to Portland either having played here in the United Soccer League days, or in college, or via U.S. Open Cup clashes. We wanted to know what they remembered about the city, the fans, and also see what players and coaches are talking about for Portland next season.
First off is ex-Timbers striker Alan Gordon. Gordon was a standout forward at Oregon State University before signing with the Timbers USL edition in 2004. Nicknamed "Flash" and with fans singing the theme song from the classic film of the same name, Gordon took the league by storm garnering Rookie of the Year honors and tying for the league lead in goals with 17. Eventually signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy and playing alongside David Beckham, Gordon has moved on to be a key part of Chivas USA's attack. Portland obviously had a big effect on his development and he's keen to see how Portland and the Timbers Army will make an impact next season in MLS.
Questions and answers have been edited for clarity.
What about your time here prepared you for MLS?
Alan Gordon: Well, first off, I just got to say how special Portland is and will always be to me. It’s kind of like, it’s where all my dreams came true, in a way. There was nothing like it. For me, being my first professional experience, it was unbelievable. I remember the first game of the year, getting my first feel of the Timbers Army, and I think it was, like, 10,000 fans there. It was unreal to me. It was really something that really . . . you know, I just stepped back and said, "This is what I was made to do.” And I never took it for granted. And I didn’t really know how, maybe I didn’t even know how special they were until I left because it is like no other place. And after seeing what Seattle has done up there, I know, and I’ve been telling people around the league that the Timbers Army was 10 times better than the Sounders or whatever the Sounders had when I was there. So I have no doubts that the Timbers Army is going to be something very very special in the MLS.
Is there a buzz among players and coaches about what Portland will be like next season in MLS?
AG: Ohhh yeah. I mean, every single person I’ve talked to is really excited about what the Northwest is doing. Because obviously Seattle’s the best place in the league right now to play and the fans have taken it to a different level and I think every organization wants to get to that type of atmosphere and support that they give. There’s a lot of excitement about Timbers and Vancouver because they know that the support is there and so I think there’s a huge buzz.
What do you think will be unique about Portland in the overall scheme of things in MLS?
AG: It’s just a different atmosphere. PGE is a really cool venue where it’s right downtown. Other teams around the league, most stadiums are built outside of the city. Even a little too far outside the city. But this is right downtown to where guys are getting right off the transit system right there . . . jumping on. There’s the beer garden down there. There’s a huge buzz. It’s a young crowd. It’s just a cool atmosphere. I think it will be a very very original crowd there.
With MLS coming here, what are some things that Portland fans haven't seen before?
AG: It’s a higher level. It’ll bring more recognizable names. It’ll bring stars there that they haven’t seen. As far as the Beckham’s and the Henry’s and the Donovan’s and you can go down the list now. This league is full of big names . . . the Gordon’s, I should say. [laughs] That should bring a lot of excitement and a big buzz to the fans. You’re coming out and you’re seeing some players that you only see on TV. It’s a cool thing for soccer fans around the country.
Okay, I've heard some stories.
AG: Oh, Jeez.
There's a story about how when you played here, you borrowed a chainsaw to cut your own log after a goal? Care to explain a bit more?
AG: It’s a great story. I scored a hat trick and on the last goal, I think it might have been sudden death if we had that back then, but scored the third goal of a hat trick and ran over and grabbed the chainsaw from Timber Jim [Timber Joey's legendary predecessor] and sawed my own little slab off of the big log and I still have it to this day. It was one of the best moments of my life. I had never—It was kind of scary once I ended up grabbing it. It was just kind of a reaction. I grabbed it and I was like, “How do I even work this thing?” You know I think I asked Timber Jim, “How do you—where’s the gas?” And he pointed at it and I just, I raised it up to the crowd and they were going crazy and I sawed my first slab off a log and it was pretty cool.