When news broke that the San Jose Earthquakes had signed Simon Dawkins to a Designated Player contract earlier this week, nostalgia for his last season in MLS -- 2012 -- resurfaced. After all, the Jamaican international was a huge part of the juggernaut that was the "Never Say Die" Supporters' Shield winners, a player then MVP Chris Wondolowski called the best technical player on the squad.
Dreams of a return to the heyday of 2012 for the Quakes now rekindled, the availability of another one of that year's stars -- the man who invoked the Goonies midseason after another improbable comeback result -- target forward Steven Lenhart, again piqued curiosity. As a core contributor to the Quakes success, Lenhart scored 10 of the team's franchise record 72 goals during that magical season.
The epitome of blond-haired bedlam, Lenhart slipped the following two seasons, notching only 5 goals in 32 total appearances. And by the midpoint of the 2014 season, nagging injuries had hindered his effectiveness and forced him to the disabled list. Lenhart worked hard on his rehabilitation, but lingering pain in his right knee persisted, and he ultimately missed the entire 2015 season.
At one point last year, Earthquakes trainers and medical staff weighed the option of recommending microfracture surgery for the 29-year old forward, but they decided instead to continue with a physical therapy and non-invasive treatment.
"It's really kind of a wait-and-see thing," general manager John Doyle told reporters in June 2015. "We've been working with our doctors, with him, with our trainers. He sees a specialist in LA that works on his knee daily. He's doing some training to try to get himself healthy, but it hasn't progressed well. It's been a tough process for him."
According to figures released by the MLS Players Union, Lenhart earned $159,083.33 in guaranteed compensation last year. In 2014, that figure was $257,500. Ahead of the 2016 season, the Earthquakes have not announced whether or not they expect Lenhart to be back with the team, but there are rumblings that he is likely to retire due to his wonky knee.
"We're working with Steven Lenhart," Doyle told reporters during the conference call to discuss the Dawkins' signing. "We will bring him in one more time and have a look at his knee. His knee has not progressed at all, so we'll be making a statement on Steven before the season starts."
Not exactly a hopeful report on the fan-favorite's prospects to return this season. With the requirement that roster moves and salary numbers need not be finalized until one week prior to the start of the season, the fate of Lenhart's Earthquakes -- and likely professional soccer -- career will be known within weeks.