Is Steven Lenhart the Dennis Rodman of Major League Soccer?

Following Sunday night’s 2-2 draw between Los Angeles and San Jose at Buck Shaw Stadium, Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez made some unusually pointed comments to the league website about the physical style of San Jose in general and Quakes striker Steven Lenhart in particular:

“I think those guys are a bunch of jokes, the way they play the game. It was just obnoxious. And, you know, it wasn’t even fun out there. It was terrible.”

Gonzalez continued, zeroing in on a play where he and Lenhart had contact and Gonzalez was whistled for a foul that led to a free-kick goal by Marvin Chavez in the 60th minute:

“I would say it was a foul on me—like I got fouled. Because my eyes were directly on the ball, and I’m just running back and, all of a sudden, I got hit. But Jair [Marrufo, the referee] said I fell on him.”

That’s a scenario that will ring a bell with Real Salt Lake fans. Check out this play from earlier in the season, when Lenhart vied for a ball over the top with RSL center back Jamison Olave:

Kind of reminds us of this, from Game 1 of the 1996 NBA Finals:

But back to LA’s Gonzalez, who was just getting warmed up with the comments above. He went on:

“It all starts when the ball’s on the other side of the field, and you’re just running and all of a sudden you get blindsided. You just get checked by Lenhart or something. It’s just dumb s*** like that happens every time, and that’s not the way the game should be played. It’s embarrassing.”

Of course Lenhart’s shenanigans, like Rodman’s back in the day, are not limited to off-the-ball provocations. Sometimes he’ll pull a prank in full view of everyone, and get away with it:

That one kind of reminds us of this less successful stunt by Rodman:

As for the San Jose camp, Quakes coach Frank Yallop wasn’t fazed by Gonzalez’s comments. Here he is yesterday, on ExtraTime Radio:

“He’s entitled to his opinion. But we go about business like we do. Do I want our players fouling and playing dirty? No, I don’t. But hey, it’s give-and-take. He can make his comments, whatever he wants to say about our team. But I will say that we try hard. We give 100% every time we step on the field and yesterday was no different….

“It’s for other people to judge us. And I’m not saying his comments are wrong. Because obviously, he’s free to make his own judgment. But we just go about business like we do, and hopefully it’s enough to go all the way this year.”

Regarding the Quakes’ style and other accusations of off-the-ball gamesmanship, Yallop ignored the gamesmanship part, but said that he’s always liked playing with a target forward, from Ronald Cerritos to Brian Ching to his current tandem of Lenhart and Alan Gordon. The Quakes’ style, he said, speaks for itself:

“People talk about our style—scoring 70-odd goals is a pretty good style.”

San Jose leads the league with 71 goals scored, 20 more than the nearest competitor.

If Gonzalez and Los Angeles can get by sub-.500 Vancouver in the play-in game, they’ll meet San Jose in the Western Conference semifinals.

MLS fans can only hope that matchup happens.

Lenhart’s Postgame ‘Goonies’ Reference Inspires SJ–LA Promo

After San Jose scored three goals in the last 15 minutes to upend the Galaxy 3-2 on May 23, Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart, aka Big Bird, was asked about the team’s ability to rally late in games (they’ve scored four stoppage-time winners this season). “Goonies never say die,” said the springy-haired striker.

Cut to this week’s promotional spot for Saturday’s rematch with the Galaxy:

The game, which is at 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium, is sold out.

Alan Gordon Scores Third Straight Late Goal, Prompts ‘Goonies’ Reference from Steven Lenhart

San Jose’s reserve striker Alan Gordon took advantage of some slack defending by his former team, the LA Galaxy, to nod in a dramatic, 94th-minute goal and lift the Earthquakes to a come-from-behind 3-2 win at the Home Depot Center last night.

The Galaxy took a 2-0 lead on goals by Hector Jiminez and Mike Magee, and held that advantage into the 75th minute, despite being down a man after Jiminez was red-carded at the hour mark for a studs up challenge on San Jose defender Steven Beitashour.

But in the 76th, San Jose turned the tide.

Highlights here:

In his previous two games, Gordon bagged tying goals in the 88th and 90th minutes. This latest last-gasper marks the fifth time this year that the Quakes have scored in the 88th minute or later, with four of those games ending in either a win or a tie.

As Lenhart told Soccer by Ives:

“We just like to make the game exciting. Goonies never say die. I think we are prepared this year. We have put in the work in training and we like each other, we show up every day and we all know we are committing to the 90 minutes, to play together and work for each other. It may not look that pretty but we know we are going to get the most out of our guys at the end of the day.”

We appreciate that Goonies reference:

Wonder if he and Jimmy Conrad have discussed this before.

In any event, the Quakes, who were missing U.S. national teamer Chris Wondolowski, roll on with the win, taking over sole possession of first place in the West with an 8-2-3 record.

For LA, which fielded a reserve-heavy lineup in this one (Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are both with their respective national teams), things can hardly get worse: The Galaxy drop to 3-7-2 with the defeat and continue to prop up the Western Conference table.

They’ve officially entered crisis mode.

Lenhart Shears Thurman Merman Locks, Embarks on Scoring Run

In a kind of reverse-Samson flourish, Columbus Crew striker Steven Lenhart cut off his mop of blond curls (which from certain angles, made him resemble the kid from Bad Santa) about a month ago and is now starting to show great goal-scoring powers.

Last Saturday, he banged in an 88th minute header in Columbus’s 3-1 loss to Chivas USA, and last night, he scored both goals in the Crew’s 2-1 road win over Philadelphia.

Three goals in two games for Lenhart, an 11-4-4 record and a ten point lead atop the East standings for Columbus?

We may never see those curls again.

Complete highlights from PPL Park here: