WASHINGTON, March 8, 2012 - You get an idea of how important Chris Pontius is to D.C. United when you cross the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge from Maryland into Washington D.C. There’s a huge banner hanging outside RFK Stadium with a photo of Pontius’ emblazoned on it. Only a few other players - Andy Najar and Dwayne De Rosario - get the same special treatment.
Pontius is clearly one of the team’s budding stars but United has only gotten one real full season out of the striker/midfielder in his three years at the club due to a litany of injuries.
Under a sunny sky at a training session at RFK on Thursday, the 24-year-old was positive about the coming season as United readies for its campaign-opener against Sporting Kansas City at RFK on Saturday night.
“This is the most excited I’ve been and this is the deepest group of players I’ve been with,” Pontius said. “It’s the best D.C. United team I’ve seen since I’ve been here. There’s a lot of optimism among the players. You feel it in the locker room and feel it from the fans.”
Last season the Yorba Linda, Calif.- native was on a roll. He was turning out to be United’s best attacking players. Then came the game at Chivas USA in September. Pontius set up Charlie Davies for three goals in the 3-0 United win but was then carried off the field after Chivas defender David Junior Lopes fractured his right tibia with a reckless tackle. Before the season-ending injury, Pontius had produced his best career numbers, notching seven goals in 24 leaguegames.
“I feel as fit as I’m going to be coming of an injury and preseason,” said Pontius. “I don’t think anyone is 90 minutes fit but we are all ready for the first game.”
Pontius’ debut season in 2009 started with a stunning goal in a 2-2 tie at the Los Angeles Galaxy. He went on to score four goals in 28 leaguappearances..
The following season he was plagued by a hamstring injury which limited him to just 17 games (13 starts) and just two goals. His broken leg last season really had an impact on the team. With a fit Pontius, United would have likely made thplayoffs..
“After being out so long I wouldn’t say he’s at his peak but he looks good,” said United coach Ben Olsen concerning Pontius. “Every now and then we will have to give him day y to slowly bring him along. He looks good physically and last week I started to see the soccer part click in and that’s exciting.”
Injuries have not gotten Pontdown.wn.
“I’m a very optimistic person so I surround myself with good people,” Pontius said. “I make the best out of the worst situation. I had a good group of friends around me and the guys on the team helped me. It’s tough watching games and not playing but I do the best I can do.”
This season, Pontius will be likely working on the left flank hoping to set up goals for United’s new star striker HSalihi.ihi.
“My best position is on the wing and that’s no secret,” Pontius said. “We’ve got Hamdi [Salihi] in there, who is just a predator in the box. So with him and Dero [Dwayne De Rosario], that’s a pretty deadly strike force. Hopefully, I’ll be finding them both with passes in the 18-yard box.”
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.