- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
Chris Pontius’ injury leaves void in D.C. United attack
For 67 minutes Saturday, D.C. United were clicking on all cylinders.
Chris Pontius did the passing, while Charlie Davies did the scoring. Together, they combined for three goals that gave Davies his first MLS hat trick and United a 3-0 lead at fellow playoff hopeful Chivas USA.
For an erratic D.C. team, the convincing performance showed just how dangerous it could be as the postseason looms, especially when the club's plethora of attacking weapons are in sync.
But in the 68th minute, Pontius and Chivas defender David Junior Lopes slid for a 50-50 ball and awkwardly collided. Lopes was shown a red card for the challenge, and Pontius left the field on a stretcher. Although United coasted to victory, it was a bittersweet triumph — Pontius had a broken right leg that will likely sideline him for the rest of 2011.
"The news on Pontius is disappointing," forward Josh Wolff said. "He's obviously a big part of who we are in our attack. We're saddened losing him, but it's an opportunity for other guys to pick up the responsibility and run with it."
Those players will be key as United (8-7-10) continue to climb toward the club's first playoff bid since 2008, starting with Saturday's trip to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Sounders (13-6-9).
Pontius' absence leaves a sizable void in United's attack. Playing mostly as a left-sided midfielder, the 24-year-old came back from an injury-plagued 2010 campaign to notch seven goals and five assists, including three Saturday, and he is the only United player to have started every game this season.
He also parlayed his fine play into a call-up to the U.S. national team earlier this month for a friendly against Costa Rica.
"He really was starting to step into his own as a player," assistant coach Chad Ashton said. "The timing was terrible for him, it was terrible for us. But that's part of life — you have setbacks."
Some of the burden will fall to the feet of Wolff, who has enjoyed a resurgent season (five goals, five assists) at age 34. The veteran, though, has been hampered by nagging injuries of late, a development which led coach Ben Olsen to slide Pontius to the front line against Chivas.
Santino Quaranta, who has started four of five matches since returning from a concussion in early August, is the likely replacement for Pontius on the wing. But considering Quaranta's value as a utility player who can also fill in centrally or up top, odds are his services will be required elsewhere on the pitch from time to time.
As a result, the player whose minutes figure to have the most notable uptick is Austin da Luz, a left-footed midfielder acquired from the New York Red Bulls in July. The third-year player out of Wake Forest is yet to make his first start for United but has appeared in five matches as a substitute, drawing a crucial penalty kick in 3-3 draw against Toronto FC on Aug. 6.
"I've settled in pretty quickly and I feel like I've got the confidence of my teammates, of Benny and the coaching staff," da Luz said. "I'm ready to do whatever is needed of me, whether it's starting, whether it's coming off the bench. ... But it's also going to be more of a collective thing where everybody is going to have to pick up a little slack."
The United players know, however, that as important as Pontius is to the team, the contributions of a single player can only go so far. They need look no further than the Sounders, who have surged to the league's second-best record despite losing dynamic winger Steve Zakuani to a broken leg in April.
"The real underlying theme for us is we just don't get consumed by being a one-man band," Wolff said. "On the whole, we've got a good group. We've got to maintain the things that we're about."
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Luis Silva realizes potential in D.C. United playmaking role
- United, D.C. hope this new stadium plan will be the last
- Jared Jeffrey returns to U.S. in search of playing time after European tour
- Sonny Silooy's career has evolved from standout defender to standout talent developer
- Alain Rochat adjusts to D.C. United move with growing family on his mind
Latest Blog Entries
- Jason Levien, Ben Olsen discuss D.C. United's $300M stadium plan
- Conor Doyle loan continues D.C. United youth movement
- Ben Olsen discusses trading Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake
- Interview outtakes: Sonny Silooy
- Hello Luis Silva, Collin Martin, goodbye Alain Rochat: Breaking down D.C. United's busy day
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Obama: Nelson Mandela now 'belongs to the ages'
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, dies at age 95
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Activists encourage Obama to circumvent Congress, use more executive authority
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
White House pets gone wild!