The breakout season for the Earthquakes' Alan Gordon continued Monday when the powerful striker was named to the U.S. men's national team for upcoming World Cup qualifying games against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala.
Gordon was one of 24 players picked for all-important CONCACAF semifinal matches Friday at Antigua and Oct. 16 at Kansas City.
"He's a guy who went through ups and downs," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "But he always had the right spirit. He never took things for granted. And he's a giver."
The 6-foot-3 Gordon is enjoying a career season in San Jose where he has scored 13 goals and added seven assists for Major League Soccer's most potent team.
"The players are fighting for each other," Klinsmann added. "He's part of that. That's why he deserved that call. It proves to you if you stay on course, if you are completely dedicated to what you're doing you can get those rewards. And this a reward for Alan to come back in."
Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop echoed Klinsmann's sentiment, saying, "He's among the best comeback stories in the league right now."
Gordon, 30, joined Seattle's Eddie Johnson as the big surprises on a roster that excluded Jozy Altidore, the leading scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie, and the Quakes' Chris Wondolowski, who is two goals shy of tying the MLS single-season scoring record of 27.
Klinsmann said Wondolowski will get his chance in future training camps. He and Vienna-based forward Terrence Boyd were included as alternates in case any of the five strikers get injured over the next week.
Klinsmann said Wondolowski, who was named MLS player of the week Monday for the fourth time this season, deserves a shot.
"Obviously Wondo is on a roll," he said of the player who has seven goals in the past five matches. "He is so fun to watch."
But the coach decided to call upon Gordon and Johnson for tactical reasons in the two games Klinsmann said the Americans must win. The United States is even with Guatemala at the top of CONCACAF'S Group A with seven points and matching totals in both goal differential and goals scored.
A win at last-place Antigua would mean the United States need only tie at home against Guatemala to advance to the final qualifying round.
"We wanted Eddie and Alan because both are strong in the air," Klinsmann said. "We expect two difficult games where opponent will play more defensively. We need to force things with crosses over the wings. Those two guys are good in the air and can lay balls off."
Klinsmann also called up Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy, who suffered a knee injury over the weekend but told the U.S. coaches he is ready. The other strikers are Clint Dempsey of Tottenham Hotspur and Herculez Gomez of Santos.
U.S. soccer fans were buzzing over the omission of Altidore, 22, who is tied for the scoring lead in the Dutch league with eight goals. But Altidore has only one assist in six appearances for the United States this year.
"I communicated with Jozy that I was not happy about his latest performances with us, maybe over the last 14 months," Klinsmann said. "Jozy can do much, much better. The reason why he's not coming in is mainly about his performances at Jamaica and at home, also in training. Also certain things that went on through the May-June camp."
"Both guys deserve to get their chance," said Yallop, adding he is not worried about their fitness before the playoffs begin next month. "The intensity of games are good for Victor and Marvin."
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.