After a sluggish first two months of the season, the San Jose Earthquakes are starting to emerge as one of the most potent offensive teams in the league.
After recording the fifth hat trick in team history, Steven Lenhart leads the surging Earthquakes against Sporting Kansas City at recently opened Livestrong Sporting Park on Friday night.
San Jose (5-4-4) totaled six goals while going a combined 1-4-2 in March and April, but it's moved into contention in the Western Conference with a 4-0-2 run since the beginning of May.
The Earthquakes, among the MLS leaders with 20 goals, have outscored opponents 14-6 during their unbeaten streak.
"We're the Bad News Bears," goalkeeper Jon Busch told the league's official website. "We just go and play. We don't really talk about the streak. We're not concerned about the streak. We're just concerned about picking up points every game and moving up the table."
Lenhart scored in the 15th, 22nd and 60th minutes to lead San Jose to a 4-2 win at D.C. on Saturday, notching the first hat trick of his career.
"It's been coming for Steven," coach Frank Yallop told the Earthquakes' official website. "He's had chances. (I'm) very, very happy for Steve. He's been though a lot this year with his family stuff and moving from Columbus. The difference was Lenhart."
Lenhart was inserted into the starting lineup April 30, a move that has paid off immensely for San Jose. He will try to build on his career-best effort in the matchup with Kansas City (2-6-4), which will be playing its second game at its new stadium after posting its highest-scoring game of the season.
Following a scoreless draw with Chicago in its home opener June 9, Kansas City got two goals from Graham Zusi and one each from Aurelien Collin and Luke Sassano to defeat FC Dallas 4-1 on the road Sunday.
That snapped a 10-game winless streak for Sporting KC, which had scored a total of four goals over its previous eight games.
"There is not a lot that has gone our way this season," manager Peter Vermes said, "but credit to the guys because they have been committed, they have not got off the beaten path, they've stayed focused and committed on what we are trying to do and believe in each other."
Vermes' club is unbeaten in its last four and appears to be building confidence.
"We've been good and concentrated the last four games, but I believe we are on our way to beating stronger teams," said Sassano, whose goal Sunday was the first of his MLS career.