By Zac Lee Rigg – LOS ANGELES, CA (Oct 5, 2012) US Soccer Players — Take the storyline from one of the big-hearted kids' movies from the early '90s, plop it in Major League Soccer, and you get Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon. They know it, too.
A few months ago, after yet another dramatic late comeback, a 3-2 win over the LA Galaxy, Lenhart referenced a 1985 hit: “Goonies never say die.” It quickly became the mantra of the San Jose Earthquakes. The league leaders have scored nine (NINE!) stoppage-time goals, tacking on an additional 13 points to their tally. Forty of San Jose's 65 goals have come in second halves.
This week, Gordon reached for Disney classic the Mighty Ducks, calling the forward line the “Bash Brothers.”
The name fits. They're bruisers, grinders, goofballs, who somehow – with Frank Yallop sprinkling some Spielberg-esque pixie dust on them – turned into goal scorers.
Lenhart started out at a couple of NAIA universities – Point Loma Nazarene and Azuza Pacific – before joining the Columbus Crew. His previous high was six goals in a season. This year, he's got 10, making San Jose the first club since 2002 to boast three double-digit goal scorers.
Gordon, nicknamed “Flash” for his lumbering pace, began at Yavapai, a community college, before joining Oregon State. His previous high in eight MLS seasons, mostly with Los Angeles, was five goals. Now he's on 13 and leads the league with 0.95 goals per 90 minutes. This August, the 30-year-old even parlayed his career year into a call-up to the US National Team that beat El Tri in Mexico for the first time ever. Gordon didn't make the 18-man roster for that game, but teammate Chris Wondolowski, who leads MLS with 22 goals, was on the bench.
“I think Gordon and Lenhart are very underrated with their touch,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “They can definitely bang with the best of them, be physical, fast and powerful, but they have a bit of class as well.”
They showed glimpses of their fine touches in the draw with Dallas.
Prior to the game, the regional broadcast interviewed Lenhart and Gordon. Lenhart hadn't put the left side of his blonde fro into a bun yet, as he does for games. Gordon's lank dark hair had its European-style hairband already. They wisecracked through the entire interview, joked about their “bromance” and then, giggling, teetered down the tunnel to get ready for the game.
Gordon scored the opener after Wondolowski dummied a cross by letting it slip through his legs. The two immediately started doing push-ups.
“That's just the Bash Brothers’ mentality,” Gordon told his club's official site. “We’ve been doing a bunch of push-ups in the gym every morning. We came up with it a long time ago and there are plenty more celebrations in the works.”
Lenhart came off the bench to score twice, both assisted by Gordon. The middle goal in particular, which Lenhart finished with the outside of his left boot, was sublime. The equalizer came in the 95th minute.
When Lenhart, Gordon and Wondolowski all take the field together, they've scored 10 goals in 239 minutes. By now, it's hardly a surprise when they surprise you. They've been doing it all season.
A prime example: a 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy at the end of August. Before the match Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant mused that Lenhart – he of the hard elbows and subtle gamesmanship and clattering aerial presence – might be the most hated player in the League. But, Dunivant chuckled, Lenhart would probably relish such a title.
Lenhart proved a nuisance in that match as well, scoring one and assisting another. At one point, with the Galaxy 3-1 ahead, "Lenhart turned to me and said, 'We're going to win this game,'” Wondolowski, who scored the winner, recalled. “I said, 'Yes we are.'” They did.
With 61 points from 31 games, the 'Quakes lead the Supporters' Shield charge. The middle of San Jose's three remaining games is against the Galaxy. By now the I-5 rivals will be wary of taking a two-goal lead, having already spurned two of those in the California Clasico this season.
Yallop's side has already qualified for the playoffs. If Hollywood has anything to do with the postseason, expect to see a few more comebacks with the Bash Brothers leading the way.
Zac Lee Rigg is a Senior Editor of Goal.com.
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