Lenhart leads Earthquakes to 2-1 win over RSL
The Earthquakes’ second victory in 15 road games this season moved them within three points of a playoff spot with four games remaining in the Major League Soccer regular season.
“It was a big win for sure,” San Jose coach Mark Watson said. “We knew we maybe had to be perfect, and win the rest of our games. I thought the effort and the commitment the players put in was fantastic.”
Real Salt Lake, which had won this season’s previous two meetings by shutout, got a goal from Javier Morales in the 19th minute. It was his eighth of the season and came during a flurry of scoring on an otherwise quiet night at the goal.
Real Salt Lake remained tied for second place behind Seattle in the chase for the Supporter’s Shield, awarded to top team in the regular season. Still, it missed an opportunity to capitalize on a struggling Earthquakes team that won the Shield a season ago.
Lenhart began the goal spurt when he headed in a cross from Cordell Cato in the 18th minute. After Morales’ equalizer, Lenhart beat goalkeeper Nick Rimando with another header, this time off a free kick from Shea Salinas.
“I think he heads the ball harder than I shoot it,” Salinas said of Lenhart, who recorded the sixth career multi-goal game of his career. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Lenhart entered the night with two goals in 17 games and hadn’t scored since July 27 against Portland. The forward followed each goal with an animated celebration that included a leap into the air and fist pump toward a section of the announced crowd of 20,504 - the fourth-largest in Rio Tinto Stadium history.
Lenhart left to a chorus of boos when he was replaced at the beginning of stoppage time.
San Jose, which ranks 16th in the league in scoring, tallied more than one goal for just the second time in seven games.
Morales’ goal came on a corner kick from Kyle Beckerman. Salt Lake, which played without injured leading scorer Javier Morales (calf), had its three-game home winning streak snapped.
Salt Lake tested the Earthquakes defense in the second half, but repeatedly failed to connect on crossing passes into the goal box. Robbie Findley and Chris Wingert each narrowly missed on shots that went wide left in the final 20 minutes.
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