The “bash brothers” are gone, but the brash brother is here to stay.
The San Jose Earthquakes announced the re-signing of bruising and bushy forward Steven Lenhart Wednesday afternoon, in a move that seemed likely following the club’s decision to protect the veteran forward in the recent expansion draft.
As with all MLS deals, neither length nor compensation were disclosed, but new head coach Dominic Kinnear commented on the singing in a press release:
“We are happy to sign Steven to a new contract. When Steven is playing and being productive, we all know the team benefits from that. We’re looking forward to a productive season from him in 2015.”
Last season wasn’t productive in terms of scoring for Lenhart, who managed only one goal in 11 league matches, but his physical presence and ability to win headers had a positive effect on the San Jose attack. Lenhart’s tireless work rate is part of the reason he’s been a regular starter for the club since his arrival from Columbus Crew in 2011.
Nobody is better at winning balls in the air than Lenny. In fact, it’s not close. Last season, Lenhart won nearly seven aerial duels per contest. That’s two more than Chad Marshall, who finished tops in the league for qualifying players (more than 15 appearances) via whoscored.com.
It’s unclear exactly where Lenhart will fit into Kinnear’s plans. He stands as the second best traditional forward on the team, and could still be used in a starting role depending on formation. With more attacking options this season, the Earthquakes may elect to employ Lenhart the same way they did former partner Alan Gordon, and use him as late game substitute on tired defenses.
Lenhart will also fight for playing time with three new offseason acquisitions: Mark Sherrod (24), Kris Tyrpak (22) and Leandro Barrera (23).