Steven Lenhart scored a pair of goals in a three-minute span on Saturday, leading the San Jose Earthquakes to a crucial 2-1 victory over Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.
San Jose came into the match in eighth place in the West needing three points to keep their playoff hopes alive. The 'Quakes struck first in the 18th minute of play when Lenhart bagged his first goal of the match.
But it took Real Salt Lake less than a minute to equalize as Javier Morales beat San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch for his eighth goal of the season.
San Jose, however, regained the lead almost immediately through some set-piece magic in the 21st minute as midfielder Shea Salinas whipped a nicely-weighted free kick into the box where Lenhart was free to head it past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to put the visitors back in front.
Real Salt Lake pushed for the equalizer, but had a difficult night trying to connect passes and the final ball proved very elusive as the 'Quakes came away with an important three points.
The result sees the Earthquakes up to 41 points, within shouting distance of the final playoff place in the West, while Real Salt Lake remain on 48 points.