SAN JOSE, Calif. – When the Earthquakes brought Steven Lenhart from Columbus to San Jose, they had big plans for the striker.
The idea was to start the season with Lenhart as the target forward in a new 4-3-3 formation, and for Lenhart to help ease the scoring burden on 2010 Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski. However, offseason arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and the passing away of his father have kept big man from stepping on the pitch with his new team.
This week, though, with the Quakes looking for their first home win of the season when Chivas USA visit on Saturday, Lenhart rejoined the team’s training.
“I feel good. It feels good to be active,” he said. “I’ve got a little ways to go. I haven’t played in a while, but it’s good to be out here with the guys, running and sweating.”
Lenhart did plenty of the latter two during the Quakes rigorous practice on Tuesday, which gave head coach Frank Yallop the opportunity to evaluate his player.
“[He’s coming along] good,” said Yallop. “He’s not at full training quite yet, but he’s pretty close. … He’s done some good crossing and finishing stuff with Ian [Russell, assistant coach] and he looks good.”
With San Jose’s five goals of the season so far coming from the feet of midfielders Wondolowski, Simon Dawkins and Khari Stephenson, Lenhart’s return is a welcome relief for the squad.
Yallop has yet to decide his 18 for the match against Chivas, but did admit that, in his opinion, Lenhart isn’t quite ready for MLS action yet.
“No, I don’t think [he’s ready],” said Yallop. “We’ll see how he feels the rest of the week, but he needs a game under his belt. There’s a reserve game on Saturday, so hopefully he can play in that if he’s not included [vs. Chivas].”
Whether Lenhart wears blue and black for the first time this season on Saturday or has to wait at least a week longer, he okay with that. His primary concern, he says, is to make sure he’s fully fit so that when he does set foot on the field, he can give his all.
“Any time I do step on the field, I want to help the team and push for a win,” he said. “I haven’t even really thought about the game [against Chivas] yet. I’m just trying to get back fit and healthy.”