Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Chris Pontius

Photo: Paul Rudderow

For any athlete, there is one easy way to the heart of any Philadelphia fan: stick it to New York.

Chris Pontius has certainly taken that message to heart this season.

In his first tussle in blue and gold with a five-boroughs foe, Pontius opened the scoring against NYCFC by deftly finishing a great run by Tranquillo Barnetta, en route to a comfortable 2-0 win for the Union.

Against New Jersey — we’ll count them as a “New York” team, the same way we give the Football Giants that designation, no matter how silly it is — it’s been more of the same. In the second half of their US Open Cup match, Pontius provided both the equalizer and the dagger, a pair of perfect runs from the wing to find Ilsinho’s precise passes capped with two effortless deposits in the back of the net, flushing the Energy Drinks out of the tournament for good.

This weekend, we saw more of the same from Pontius. He provided a dangerous outlet, collecting a long ball from Brian Carroll in the first half that led to a goal just barely disallowed for offsides.

Pontius kept pushing, though, and got his reward in the second half. First, he let Sal Zizzo do the pushing, as the clumsy defender bowled over Pontius just yards from goal, earning a penalty kick blasted home by C.J. Sapong.

Barely a minute later, Pontius would tie the score with a goal to his own name, a smooth finish into an empty net after an exquisite back-post run was met with Fabian Herbers’ cross.

(In case you were keeping track — each of these four goals against NYRB came in front of the River End. Talk about someone who loves a crowd.)

Many question marks circled around Pontius coming into the season. Struggling with injuries in his last few years with D.C. United, there were legitimate concerns from the Union faithful that the veteran winger might not justify his steep cap hit.

But Pontius has been everything Jim Curtin hoped he would be — a tenacious, crafty winger, capable of executing the Union’s defensive press while springing free with dangerous runs into space. Pontius always seems to be in the right place at the right time, whether it be to score a goal, crack open a defense, or draw a foul in the box.

The Union wouldn’t be where they are without him. And the Red Bulls would still be alive in the Open Cup — and two points higher in the standings — if he were on the sidelines.

That is more than enough to earn Chris Pontius his second PSP Player of the Week award.

PSP Player of the Week Awards, 2016 Season
Chris Pontius (3/15, 7/19)
Ilsinho (7/12)
Chevaughn Walsh (7/6)
Roland Alberg (6/21, 6/28)
Brian Carroll (4/26, 6/1)
Richie Marquez (5/24)
Keegan Rosenberry (5/17)
Sebastien Le Toux (4/19)
Tranquillo Barnetta (4/11)
C.J. Sapong (3/22)
Andre Blake (3/8)

9 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    I’d give an honorable mention to BC for really holding the team together Sunday when they could have easily folded.

  2. As KKinkead points out in his player grades piece today, Pontius earned 3 PKs lately but took none of them. That ain’t no Kei Kamara, friends!

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Pretty much.

  4. pragmatist says:

    I don’t want to even use words like “health” in regards to him, because I don’t want to jinx anything. It was our main concern before the season. He may not be the “best” player on our team, but he is arguable the most important. (That is the basis for a barroom debate, but he’s in the discussion.)
    .
    I honestly didn’t know what to expect from him, but I think it was because he had been so snakebit in DC for so many years.
    .
    Keep it up, man. The sniper we’ve asked to see for years. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but he’s no poacher either. I’ll be curious if Herbers gets a full 90′ at that #10 role like he played on Sunday. It would be highly entertaining to watch Herbers and Pontius making streaking, intelligent runs all game long, while CJ occupies the CB.
    .
    Many good things in the future for this club.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      This is really pretty well said. 100%.
      .
      I Tweet with The Bolivian Yank, a DC fan, and rub it in sometimes that we have him.
      .
      This team is well balanced. Damn glad we got ES…

      • I am also glad ES is on our team, but Pontius was brought in by Curtin/Albright, to many groans if I remember correctly.

  5. Pontius finished second in the black box that is the Audi Player Index for the week.
    .
    http://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2016/07/19/audi-mls-player-index-week-19-who-finished-top-20

  6. Zizouisgod says:

    Chris Pontius is what the Union thought that Andrew Wenger could be a couple of years ago. A target winger who can move and take advantage of mismatches as well as find dangerous spaces to get into.

    If the league didn’t have all of these DP forwards, Pontius probably would be an all-star, he’s been fantastic.

    It’s great that concerns over his salary and injury history are no longer front and center.

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