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ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Player of the Week: Steven Lenhart

DC United v San Jose Earthquakes

SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 02: Steven Lenhart #24 and Chris Wondolowski #8 of the San Jose Earthquakes celebrate after Lenhart scored in the first half of their game against the D.C. United at Buck Shaw Stadium on May 2, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Usually when we write about Steven Lenhart, words like “overly aggressive” or “fouling instigator” or “dirty play” or even “nearly started a full-fledged donnybrook!” are never far away.

Not today. Lenhart provided two highly essential goals for San Jose on Saturday night, both of his team’s early strikes in a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake – a potential playoff shape-shifting result.

Lenhart headed in a 18th-minute cross, then was alert minutes later as San Jose took a quick free kick, exploiting the advantage of surprise for his early game winner.

And what an important game-winner it was. San Jose has but four matches remaining, and stands four points out of the playoffs. But three of the matches are potential “Ws,” at lowly Chivas USA, at home against eight-place Dallas and again at home against Colorado. A road match at rival Los Angeles is a slippery bit, to be sure. Then again, without the massive weekend win in Utah, thanks in large part to Lenhart, we wouldn’t even be talking today about any Earthquakes playoff chances at all.

With his pair of goals Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, Lenhart doubled his season total to four.