Steven Lenhart scored his first goal as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night. And this time, it will count — both in the statistics and the standings.
The big striker broke between a pair of defenders to get on the end of Steve Beitashour’s long-range cross in the 69th minute, powering it home with a header from the penalty spot that stood up as the only score in the Quakes’ 2-0 victory against the Houston Dynamo at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Lenhart had been credited with a goal in the Quakes’ 3-0 win against Columbus on May 14, but it was later ruled to have been deflected by teammate Brandon McDonald. There was no question about this one, which clinched a third consecutive win at home by the suddenly surging Quakes. San Jose (4-4-4), unbeaten in its last five matches, reached .500 for the first time since April 2.
Simon Dawkins, playing for the first time since undergoing surgery May 5 to relieve compartment syndrome in both calves, tallied in second-half injury time to salt away the decision.
For Houston (3-5-6), it was another disappointing result that extended its winless streak to seven matches.
The match turned on a sequence that began innocuously, with Beitashour collecting a wayward boot from Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall just inside his own half of the field. Facing no pressure, the San Jose native took two dribbles to get within 40 yards of goal, then delivered a bending ball into the box for his first career MLS assist. Lenhart split between Houston defenders Hunter Freeman and Bobby Boswell to drive the ball to the near post, leaving Hall with no real chance to make a save.
Houston pushed forward desperately but could not keep San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch from recording his third shutout of the season with five saves.
Busch came up with two key stops, diving to stop headers from Houston midfielder Lovel Palmer in the 84th minute and and forward Cam Weaver in the 90th minute. Lenhart made his own contribution on defense, blocking a drive by Colin Clark in the 90th as Busch scrambled to get back into position.
Houston, playing for the first time all year without center back Andre Hainault (on Gold Cup duty with Canada), moved Geoff Cameron to the back line to fill that spot. Nevertheless, Cameron created arguably the first half’s most dangerous moment, feeding a ball to Dynamo captain Brad Davis, then making a penetrating run through the heart of the Quakes defense to get in position for a return pass. Davis’ through ball found Cameron as he sped between San Jose defenders Beitashour and Bobby Burling. Only the presence of a sliding Busch prevented Cameron from scoring with his left foot from 14 yards out.
The Quakes were making do without leading scorer Chris Wondolowski, who earned 45 minutes for the U.S. against Spain on Saturday. They especially missed him in the 48th minute, when a sliding Lenhart beat Hall to a pass and hooked a grounded cross across the face of goal. Khari Stephenson, playing underneath Lenhart in Wondolowski’s place, hung back instead of charging, and the ball rolled through the area untouched.
Stephenson almost avenged himself in the 60th minute when he corralled an attempted Houston clearance off an Anthony Ampaipitakwong free kick. But Stephenson’s right-footed rip steamed just wide of the back post.
The Earthquakes next travel to D.C. United on June 11, while Houston will host Chivas USA that same day.
Houston Dynamo (3-5-6) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (4-4-4)
June 04, 2011 -- Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
SJ -- Steven Lenhart 1 (Steve Beitashour 1) 69
SJ -- Simon Dawkins 3 (Sam Cronin 1) 91+
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Mike Chabala, Danny Cruz (Corey Ashe 71),
Lovel Palmer, Brad Davis, Colin Clark, Will
Bruin (Jason Garey 87), Cam Weaver.
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Dixon, Jordan Graye, Eddie Robinson, Josue Soto, Tyler Deric.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Bobby
Convey, Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Simon Dawkins 75), Sam Cronin, Brad
Ring, Khari Stephenson (Brandon McDonald 82), Ramiro Corrales, Steven
Substitutes Not Used: Joey Gjertsen, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Ellis McLoughlin, Andrew Weber.
HOU -- Mike Chabala (caution; Reckless Tackle) 59
HOU -- Corey Ashe (caution; Reckless Tackle) 80
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell; George Gansner
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Weather: Cloudy-and-62 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial