For Gilbert native and Los Angeles forward Alan Gordon, Saturday night’s PHX Soccer Clasico at Sun Devil Stadium was a mixed blessing.
Gordon had his entire family, friends from Gilbert High School and others in the stands hoping to see their hometown hero in action. But alas, it was not meant to be as Gordon is recovering from a hamstring strain and did not enter the game. He was dressed in warm-ups and sat on the bench.
“It was disappointing not to play in front of them,” Gordon said after the 1-1 draw. “I was excited to see my family and friends though.”
Gordon said he hopes to be back in action in a few days. Missing Saturday’s game was primarily a precaution. Gordon knows he has to get back on the field soon because the Galaxy have several talented forwards and he wants to make sure he is a part of the rotation.
“He needs to get his fitness back so he can compete for a starting position,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.
When Mexican soccer legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco entered the game as a substitute in the 60th minute for Chicago, the crowd came to life and flashbulbs began to pop around the stadium. Blanco signed with MLS about the same time as David Beckham signed with the Galaxy, but his signing was lost in the media frenzy over Beckham.
Entering his third season with the Fire, Blanco has been a much stronger presence than the England international, scoring more goals and dazzling fans with fancy passes and his over-sized personality. Blanco is also responsible for increases in attendance at the Fire’s away matches. Blanco is recovering from an injury to his right knee, which has limited him to about 30 to 35 minutes the past couple of preseason games.
Fire coach Denis Hamlett said the team is being careful easing him back into full game action. Hamlett would not say how much Blanco would play in the Fire’s season opener Saturday night at Dallas.
Just days after the Galaxy and Italian club AC Milan announced that David Beckham will remain in Italy until the conclusion of the Serie A season at the end of May, the two clubs announced that the teams will play an exhibition game on July 19 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Tickets for the game went on sale Saturday morning and also include tickets to Sunday’s Galaxy home opener against D.C. United. Tickets for the two games start at $50. There is no word on which team Beckham will play for, although he will be with the Galaxy in July after playing for England in two World Cup qualifiers in June.
Gordon wasn’t the only player on the field Saturday with connections to the East Valley. Tempe native and Marcos de Niza graduate Greg Vanney was honored during halftime with a video tribute and presented with a ceremonial game ball.
Vanney played for the Galaxy last season, but retired after a long, distinguished career in the United States and Europe. In addition to Los Angeles, Vanney played for Dallas, D.C. United and Colorado. He also played in the top league in France. Vanney played for the U.S. national team, making more than 30 appearances for his country.
Vanney led Marcos de Niza to three state soccer championships from 1990-92. Scottsdale’s Michael Gavin and Glendale’s Brandon McDonald were members of the Galaxy last season, but both players were waived by the team nearly a month ago.