The San Jose Earthquakes listless attack is set to receive a major boost.
Target man Steven Lenhart is nearing a return to the squad, according to head coach Mark Watson.
“Steven’s coming along, he’s been in training the past couple of days,” said Watson. “He’s getting healthy. He’s not too far away.”
Watson, however, did not provide a specific timeline for when Lenhart will be back on the field.
The Quakes have been without the forward since the club’s loss to the New England Revolution on April 29 when Lenhart went down with a knee injury in the 77th minute. The MCL sprain in his left knee has already cost Lenhart five games, during which time the Quakes have only found the back of the net on four occasions.
The Quakes’ attack would clearly benefit from the return of the bruising 27-year-old, who is less than popular with center backs around the league thanks to his physical style of play. However, Watson knows that the team has to be patient with Lenhart’s recovery.
“He’s champing at the bit, and we’re actually looking forward to having him back. But we’ve got to be smart and make sure he goes about it the right way. “
The Quakes need to be smart, indeed.
Lenhart, of course, has an extensive history of knee injuries. His right knee required surgery in both 2011 and 2012, and the forward also missed time with ongoing issues a season ago.
Then again, the Quakes’ attack can use all the help it can get.
San Jose has scored just eight goals in the first eight games of the season, which ranks 16th out of 19 MLS clubs. Five of those goals belong to striker Chris Wondolowski, who could be leaving the lineup imminently.
The training camp for the U.S. World Cup team is set to begin on May 14 at Stanford, and it would be a serious upset if Wondolowski isn’t at least included on the preliminary 30-man roster. That means that unless Lenhart is a surprise inclusion in the lineup on Saturday against FC Dallas, his return will coincide with Wondolowoski’s departure.