Hat tricks generally equal player-of-the-week honors, and that was the case today for San Jose's Steve Lenhart, who got my first vote. My second went to Vancouver's Eric Hassli, who will likely have to content himself with goal-of-the-week honors.
Here's the release from the league.
San Jose Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart was voted MLS Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 13. Lenhart recorded the first hat trick of his MLS career and tallied an assist in San Jose’s 4-2 win over D.C. United.
Moments after D.C. United’s first goal, Lenhart evened the game by beating an offside trap. Khari Stephenson’s pass split the D.C. backline and sent Lenhart on a breakaway. Lenhart coolly sidestepped charging goalkeeper Bill Hamid and finished in the empty net.
Just seven minutes later, Lenhart and Stephenson connected again for the team’s second goal. Lenhart tapped a ball out of the air at the top of the box to Stephenson who unleashed a rocket. Hamid made the initial save but Lenhart pounded the rebound into the goal.
Simon Dawkins replaced Stephenson early in the second half and immediately teamed with Lenhart to give San Jose a 3-2 lead. Dawkins and Lenhart played a tidy one-two pass that put Dawkins behind the D.C. defense where he confidently beat Hamid.
Lenhart completed his hat trick and put the game out of reach in the 60th minute. D.C. cleared a free kick out of the area only to have Steven Beitashour lob it right back in. Lenhart leapt to beat two defenders and Hamid, who came off his line in an attempt to punch the ball, for his third goal.
San Jose’s unbeaten streak is now at six games.
The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by a panel of journalists from NASR. The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information can be found at www.soccerreporters.com.