The opening of Avaya Stadium was a bit of a homecoming for LA Galaxy striker Alan Gordon. After all, it was in two-plus seasons as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes that the target forward enjoyed the best season of his MLS career and endeared himself to many of the supporters that on Saturday celebrated the debut of the Quakes new stadium.
In pregame warm-ups and in player introductions, Gordon received more cheers than boos from the Avaya crowd -- not a regular welcoming for most of the visitors that represent San Jose's biggest rival -- and he was appreciative of their acknowledgment.
"This place was very dear to my heart.," said Gordon of playing in San Jose. "The fans were always really, really nice and warm and supportive of me, and they continue to be. They are classy fans, and I will always love this place."
Gordon and the LA Galaxy played a good game, their last to close out the preseason, but fell short of a victory when defender Omar Gonzalez staked the Earthquakes to a 1-0 halftime lead and the Galaxy never recovered. Even with Robbie Keane on the field -- the reigning MLS MVP did score the second of the two LA goals in their 3-2 loss to the Quakes -- Gordon's Galaxy still came up short in spoiling the party for the over 10,000 Earthquakes supporters at Avaya Stadium's first-ever soccer match.
"It was a great atmosphere," said Gordon. "They've done a good job and have added another quality stadium to this league. It was really important, and I am sure fans will enjoy coming here and supporting their team."
Gordon did make one appearance for LA in San Jose after his trade to the Galaxy last summer, but that was at Buck Shaw Stadium. Saturday's game was the first time Gordon got to set foot in the stadium that he saw rise up just yards away from the Earthquakes Training Facility -- his training ground during his stint with the Quakes.
In pregame warm ups, Gordon was the first player in Avaya Stadium history to rocket an errant shot off the Largest Outdoor Bar in North America, doing it twice -- once nearly smashing a video monitor above the popular stadium feature -- and keeping bar patrons on high alert.
But for Gordon, the most memorable moment of his first visit to Avaya was the chance to catch up with some of his old teammates and share their joy in the opening of the newest soccer stadium in MLS. Sure, he would be fighting against them moments later when the opening whistle was sounded, but that was simply the responsibility he had as a member of the visiting team.
"I have a lot of good relationships with guys still with the Quakes, lifelong relationships," said Gordon. "Those things are always going to be off-the-field things. On the field, I'm wearing gold and blue now, so my loyalties are with the Galaxy. It's easy to separate it when you are competing, but I am happy for these guys that are here that are finally getting their stadium that were with the team a long time and this is a good moment for this organization."
From a player that created so many recent memories for Earthquakes fans, it was a very nice sentiment, indeed.