Steven Lenhart: The Punk Kid Next DoorSan Jose's Steven Lenhart is earning quite the reputation in MLS
by Chris Enger | Tuesday, May 08, 2012
As a reminder, I’m a huge Real Salt Lake homer.
I hate San Jose’s Steven Lenhart. I know hate is a strong word, but I do. I despise, loath and detest him.
In my dictionary the word “jerk” has a photo of him with that annoying “what foul?” face.
If he was in Game of Thrones, he would be Prince Joffry. If he was a Bad News Bear, he would be the snot nosed Tanner kid. If he was in the NBA, he would be a combination of Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer and Ron Artest.
I’m pretty sure if you listen to Lloyd Christmas make the most annoying sound ever in Dumb and Dumber, he’s shouting “LENHART!”
He plays like that annoying bully who persistently puts his finger in your chest and pushes, at least until you react. Then if you retaliate, he acts as though you’re the instigator and says it’s your fault.
Lenhart is the older brother who sits on top of your chest and knuckles your forehead until you can come up with 50 different cereals and then won’t get off because he’s got an insatiable need to show you who’s boss.
His playing style is similar to an old man playing pickup basketball. He’ll knee and elbow you continually while using his low center of gravity to put undue pressure on your knees.
He’s the vinegar to the baking soda volcano science project. He makes players explode.
He finds a weakness and exploits it.
Basically he’s the boil on the backside of MLS, and there’s no way the find comfort as long as he’s there.
He’s brought three rival fan bases together in their collective disdain for the floppy long locked player.
In the span of a year he was able to get Los Angeles keeper Saunders a red card for an attempted elbow (after he annoyingly tried to head away a ball from Saunders’s hands), earned a game winning penalty kick at Seattle for falling down in the box and suckered the ref into giving RSL’s Olave a red card after Lenhart pulled on Olave’s shorts and then took a nose dive just outside the box.
Every little idiosyncrasy he has grates on me. Heck, the aggressive nature with which he chews gums makes cows impressed. I hate him. I detest him. I abhor him.
And yet ... I want him on my team. Yeah I said it. I would love having him on my team.
Lenhart fits into that classic villain role where everyone hates him but for one fanbase: the fanbase of the team he represents.
He does everything in his power, and hate it or not, within the rules to earn his team points. He plays with 100% passion and it doesn’t hurt that he also has some skill when it comes to playing the game.
He may make questionable decisions, he may be annoying, he may simulate but he doesn’t do it more than anyone else in the league. He just goes unpunished because there is always some reasonable doubt with his diving.
As a GM or coach, I would always ask these questions in regards to signing players:
(1) Does he make my team better?
(2) Does he work hard and leave everything on the field?
(3) Does he help the players around him?
With Steven Lenhart the answer to all three of those questions is a resounding - YES.
What he does may not be pretty and he may come off as an arrogant jerk with a bad flowbee haircut, but Steven Lenhart would have a welcome place on my squad … I just hope he isn’t playing the next time my team is in town.