. More Gordon magic puts San Jose in first: MLS does not have a 12th Man of the Year award, one that honors the top substitute in the league much like the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, but if the league were to add that award to its postseason list of honors this year, it's already clear that it would go to San Jose Earthquakes sparkplug Alan Gordon.
Gordon's fifth goal off the bench for the Earthquakes and his flicked-on header that led to Chris Wondolowski's goal capped a 2-1 victory at Real Salt Lake that gives the Earthquakes sole possession of first place in the hotly contested Western Conference. And that's on top of the own goal he forced and penalty he drew that netted the Earthquakes' the first half of their Rocky Mountain sweep at Colorado in mid-week action.
Gordon has emerged as a less villainous but equally disruptive version of Steven Lenhart, San Jose's instigator extraordinaire, and has already matched his career high for goals in a single season, scoring five both last season and in 2008. The only question is, should Gordon have even been playing at all after what appeared to be a pretty blatant dive to draw the game-winning penalty against the Rapids? It marks the second straight season that RSL has lost to a club that had its key player on the field a game after he could have easily been suspended for a dive (Dwayne De Rosario got away with a flop to draw a late penalty against Chivas USA last season only to come back the next game and torch RSL for the quickest hat trick in league history).
Regardless of whether Gordon flopped against Colorado or how San Jose has been getting its results, the league did not see fit to punish him, and the club deservedly sits atop the conference standings. With two wins over RSL, a remarkable 6-2-1 record on the road and a match in which they posted five goals on East-leading D.C. United, the Earthquakes have established themselves as the new team to beat as a blockbuster, must-see match against the resurgent Los Angeles Galaxy awaits next weekend at Stanford Stadium.
As for RSL, between blowing a two-goal lead to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday and Saturday's loss to the Earthquakes -- both of which came at Rio Tinto Stadium -- the club missed a golden opportunity to put some distance between itself and its top competition in the West and instead has fallen behind San Jose and remains within striking distance of Seattle and Vancouver. The match also provided a double blow for RSL, with Kyle Beckerman's yellow card for dissent at the end of the first half ruling him out of the club's next match at Columbus due to card accumulation.