By JOEY SAMUEL
He didn't even play half an hour, but Steven Lenhart's physical style of play in the box worked wonders on Saturday night as his two goals led the San Jose Earthquakes to victory over the Philadelphia Union.
After 75 minutes of mostly boring play from both teams, Lenhart broke the deadlock when he headed in a cross from fellow substitute Marvin Chavez. Gabriel Gomez equalized moments later for the Union, and Philadelphia looked capable of scoring a winner. But San Jose held on until stoppage time, when Lenhart got on the end of another Chavez cross to score again and give the Earthquakes a 2-1 away win at PPL Park.
San Jose, now all alone in first place in the Western Conference once again, controlled over 60% of the possession but were unable to capitalize for most of the game. Neither team managed to create any real chances until the final quarter of an hour, when the game opened up and both teams found the back of the net.
"We go up a goal and then concede one late in the game," said San Jose coach Frank Yallop. "To come back and score the winner, especially away from home, is very good. So we're happy as a club, and very pleased for Steven Lenhart."
Both teams took a long while before managing to create any offense. Newly signed German midfielder Kai Herdling made his debut for the Union, but at times looked lazy and his passes were frequently intercepted. Brian Carroll missed the game for Philadelphia, but Amobi Okugo filled in well for him and helped to break up San Jose's play.
Zac MacMath continued his shutout streak through to halftime, making several good saves in the first half. He denied Rafael Baca in the sixth minute, and parried away attempts from Khari Stephenson later in the half.
When the Union came out with more intensity in the second half, Yallop knew he needed to make a change, and in the 61st minute he made a double substitution. On came Lenhart and Chavez, and they ended up making quite the difference.
"Marvin and Lenhart have pace and power," Yallop said. "We wanted to give them enough time to get into the game. It changed the game for us. If we had kept what we were doing, I think we probably would have conceded a goal and probably not scored tonight."
Lenhart's diving header from Chavez's cross gave the Earthquakes the lead in the 76th minute, but it also seemed to wake up the Union. Jack McInerney and Danny Mwanga came on for Philadelphia, and in the 83rd minute, Mwanga held up the ball in the box and layed it off to Gomez, who slotted it past Jon Busch for the equalizer.
In the 90th minute, San Jose thought they had a winner when Ike Opara finished off a Lenhart attempt, but it was called offsides. Fortunately for the Earthquakes, it didn't matter, because moments later Lenhart scored an actual winner off another Chavez cross.
"It's a really tough loss, to lose a game like that in injury time," said Union assistant head coach John Hackworth, who was filling in for suspended Peter Nowak. "After fighting so hard to come back and equalize, it's just a tough one because you really feel you deserve at least a point."
It was the Union's second home loss, and it snapped a two-game winning streak. Lenhart's first goal also brought MacMath's shutout streak to an end at 410 minutes.
The Earthquakes, meanwhile, regained sole possession of first place in the West with their third away victory of 2012. While they may have gone under the radar as the season began, now few can question their position as a contender in the Western Conference.
"Any win is good, whether you take it on the road or at home," Yallop said. "We don't look at them any differently. Any time you can pick up three points on the road against whoever it is, is good for any club."
San Jose will look to continue their strong start next week when they host DC United next week. Philadelphia, on the other hand, will try to get back on track as they travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders.
I think the problem with the broadcast was that they were not in the stadium. It was being called off of monitors from the Bay Area. The one replay they had easily showed it was onside – so much so that maybe they weren’t sure what the call was so just let it go.
On the quakes broadcast was gus johnson, who calls March Madness, im not surprised he didnt get it. The color guy should have pointed that out right away.
Philly are just so slow in their play. Gomez and Adu barely go faster than a jog while Pajoy doesn’t have the speed to beat most centerbacks to the ball. To compound matters, the play so slowly and have no urgency with the ball. Any moderately organized defense can deal with them quite easily.
Other thoughts from last night:
– Philly back four played quite well. Gaddis looked good as did the other three.
– San Jose is good. They play the ball quickly and squeeze the field well. The distance between the backline and the forwards is consistent all game.
– Gabriel Gomez just is too slow. He moves slowly, thinks slowly and plays slowly. He has yet to adapt to the pace of the MLS.
– Macmath looks much more comfortable and is playing better.
– Philly looks like they lack a coherent strategy with and without the ball. Not a good sign at all.
The offside call on the disallowed goal was shocking. What’s worse is how the commentators on the replay didn’t seem to understand the rule and point out the blown call.
i cant tell if you’re joking….that first goal was definitely onside
Which dives are you speaking of, considering the seattle play was justified by the seattle player that said himself that the contact was on purpose from a previous play. He’s aggressive and plays 110% 100% of thd time. Love it or hate it he’s on the first place team and yesterday was nothing less then beautiful.
clearly onside by at least a foot, mr ref. He had inside position and was even with his man. If you dont think he is even, then look at the other defender’s position who was closer to the goalline. Even look at the second replay side angle where Lenhart starts his run from a very onside position
Anyone else think SJ’s first goal was clearly offsides? Then again the disallowed goal was ONside, so in the bigger picture it evened out…but still, poor officiating from whichever sideline ref. was working that side of the field.
I agree Nowak is antisoccer…FIRE NOWAK
No surprise in this result now that we’re facing stronger teams again. Same old strategy: let’s play to not lose. I understand that defense is very important but w/o possession and offense it’s just a matter of time. No way this team makes the playoffs playing this way. I get that we were missing people and that these players ar young, but I refuse to accept that there isn’t more offensive skill and creativity to be gotten out of this roster. Even though Nowak was suspended this is still Nowak’s system. Until that changes this is what Philly is stuck with.
Philly deserved to lose. Their negative style at home is one reason that they stink. I think the stats say they average 2 shots on goal a game? Getting rid of Le Toux and Ruiz was a pretty big bonehead move by Nowak.
Chavez was amazing and so was Lenny tonight. I cant wait for wednesday’s game.
easily couldve been 3-1 for SJ. Very suprised how dominant SJ was in the last quarter of the game (didnt see earlier part) I’m more surprised though that there’s more comments here then on the story about LA. I support all Cali teams, but maybe things are changing in regards who the big team from Cali is
u mad bro?
I didn’t mention today’s game did I? I’m talking his body of “work”. I agree with ex_sweeper below. I can respect a physical player, but he has a negative style that’s a disgrace to the game. Hopefully he knocks it off and keeps up the positive style. I was a fan of his in his early years at Columbus but he’s fallen off my “like” list with some of his dives and his attitude. I’m not denying his talent.
Today “Good Lenhart” showed up – fighting to hold up the ball, making smart passes and muscling his way into a scoring position. Against SLC was “Bad Lenhart”, the joker in the pack, which is mostly what we’ve seen for the Quakes this year. May the good continue…
What antics are you talking about? Are people just hating on Lenhart because they don’t like his hair or something? I swear every week that he helps his team, people jump on here and every other site to make an effort to say something negative about his game. But today, I don’t think he did anything controversial and people are still complaining. Strange. All I saw was him getting a brace, and an assist called back.
Lenhart is a disgrace to the game… I hope his antics catch up with him and someone teaches him a “lesson”
lenhart is a flopping $*#& he should have already been suspended twice this year. he has no respect for the game
Deserve a point? The Union got what they deserved which was zero. Talk about a losing strategy from the get go. They played like the away team the entire game until the dying minutes when they pushed everyone forward–everyone that is except for Gomes who was indescribably at midfield with one other defender on the Union’s last push up the field. I get that the Union were missing players but talk about a strategy with no balls. This team stinks but I don’t blame the players as much as I blame the coaches. And beyond the loss, once again, what a crappy display of soccer. The announced crowd was probably 5,000 more than the actual crowd and it’s hard to believe people will continue paying to watch garbage.