By AVI CREDITOR
What happens when a player doesn't just meet expectations, but surpasses them?
Welcome to Chris Pontius' world.
After notching eight goals and six assists in 40 games (in all competitions) during his rookie season with D.C. United, Pontius announced his arrival in Major League Soccer with profound authority, earning a spot as a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year.
His first-year success caught the attention of U.S. national team head coach Bob Bradley, who called him up for January's national team training camp. As Pontius' second MLS season begins, he will face the tough task of improving on the high standard he set as a rookie.
"Last year I came in here and had to prove myself going into the preseason," Pontius said. "I didn't really know what to expect. Obviously, I think I kind of exceeded expectations, but I wanted to get playing time and do all that, so when I stepped on the field in my first game I knew I had to push myself."
It took all of 62 minutes of game time for the 6-foot, 168-pound, 22-year-old to validate the front office's decision.
With a bending strike that pierced the back of the L.A. Galaxy net in the season opener, Pontius put his true abilities on display. He contributed in the midfield and at striker as the season progressed, and his versatility and finishing ability are what makes him one of United's top threats in just his second season.
"The experience I gained in my rookie year was huge," Pontius said. "Confidence and experience are the two biggest things that helped me be comfortable out there on the field."
Pontius' first season garnered him the national-team experience and at least a mention in the conversation about which forwards belong on the World Cup roster this summer. Even he won't buy into that level of expectation, though.
"You have to be realistic," Pontius said. "(January) was my first call up. I'm just going to keep working hard and do what I can and control what I can on the field.
"Obviously, I would love to get called back up to the national team and perform there, but you have to be realistic with the World Cup kind-of-thing. I've been realistic with myself. I'm with D.C. now and want to perform with D.C. now, and if something happens, it happens."
As for the man in charge of managing expectations, first-year United coach Curt Onalfo would rather let things play out instead of proclaiming a list of requirements for Pontius' second year.
"I don't want to put tremendous expectations on his shoulders," Onalfo said. "I think he's a young player with a very bright future, and I'm going to make sure that he feels comfortable and confident to go in and have a great season. I believe that he can have a great season, and I'm sure he will."
Probibly true….but could be a contender for 2014 qualifiers and with good showing possibly a birth in the 2014 WC.
Looking forward to the Pontius sophomore slump.
I would not be surprised if he plays his way onto the roster for South Africa this summer.
PLAY THE POOR BOY, BOB BRADLEY! JUST GIVE THE BOY A CHANCE!
Amen to that :))
Yea its not going anywhere so you’d better learn to accept and then embrace it.
I’d also wager he finds more success getting them goals if they stop shuffling him around and let him get comfortable playing further forward more often.
Steve O and Johnny Knoxville are both “cast members” of the old Big Brother skateboarding magazine videos with Chris “Party Boy” Pontius, who later went on to do the Jackass show on MTV as well as the movies… I suggest checking out youtube, or perhaps actually renting the jackass movies to put it all in perspective. You’re bound to find some of it just a little bit funny.
I’m just pointing out, that here in the states there are probably millions of kids and aging skateboarders alike who were very familiar with a different Chris Pontius than the one who plays for DCU.
forget 4-3-3. new faces and re-alignment have added speed to DCU. Teams will fear the tandem of Wallace/Castillo…which, hopefully, frees up Tino on the right. You could during the game see a shift to a 4-3-2-1
He’d be better in a 4-3-3 coming outside and cutting in but we don’t have the midfield to rely on 3 nor the stamina to have the winged forwards track back.
I’d like the look of:
But we won’t see it.
I see us written off a lot this season – think there’s reason to have higher hopes than before. I don’t see it as rebuilding, more like re-finding ourselves: New coach, new players but the core is still there and we have youth.
Hope Danny can figure himself out – he was immense when he was younger.
Quaranta will pick up the mantle of Benny Olsen and become the fighting spirit of DCU
Not that much out-there – I can remember at least 4 times when he missed sitters…that would take him to 12 last season…so 16 is reasonable IMO (assuming he improves his finishing)
Too tired to lighten up. Watched maybe the best Dr. Who episode last night, but it must have scared the 8 y.o. I didn’t get him to sleep until 2.
Wow. That would be awesome. If he gets 16 goals, I see some more hardware in DCU’s immediate future.
Understood; I don’t follow DC all that much. In fact I don’t follow the teams so much as the good play and the good players. All very good points though.
If he only gets 10 (all competitions) it would be a less than successful year for him :))
My predict: 16 goals
You also have to wonder how many games will Quaranta play. This guy is constantly injured. He’s been through so much I hope he can have one full season with no problems
The angels have the phone box.
Start Allsopp , bring in Moreno as sub. I think that Namoff may have only limited playing time (and maybe will not return at all) for a while and a replacement is needed, IMO James is a sub..DCU needs a bone fide defender.
Wallace was always a back – just not in Tommy’s book…a fast paced attacking back.
Books out on Szetela, he barely got his boots on last season…give him his chance to fail.
I hope he scores 10+ goals this season and spends all his time up top paired with Jaime or Crocodile Dundee. I also hope he gets his shorts turned into break aways so he can do a goal celebration that looks a little something like this:
Nor am I convinced that Szetela will start. I think they’re still looking for someone with more playmaking skills.
Thanks Ives, its good to have reports on the new breed and future players.
I watched Pontius last year, he was often the best reason to watch DCU. He tired a bit in the second half of the season, otherwise he may have walked away with Rookie of the year (Gonzalez was awesome though)
I believe that DC has stated that he will start at forward..which I think will be the best decision for him, I just don’t see him as a play-maker/midfield general. Maybe attacking Mid – where he was most of last year. As many goals as he scored, he could have easily been in double figures had his finishing been better, something he needs to work on, kinda scary that a rookie gets 8 goals and still has a tremendous improvement in finishing to achieve. If the forward position works, I would expect him to be one of the leagues top scorers (and NAT’s) for many years to come.
Oh lighten up fischy. Why wouldn’t people call him Party Boy? Especially Steve O… LOL. You do know who Steve O is right?
Except that it leaves out the starting striker — probably their biggest signing of the off-season: Danny Allsopp.
And, it includes Bryan Namoff, who is still suffering post-concussion syndrome and can’t even begin training.
I’m also not sold on James. Or, for that matter, on Wallace as a defender. They’re bringing in a lot of trialists. We’ll have to see how the back-line shakes out.
He’s built like a striker, so DCU naturally wants to try him up there. However, he showed some pretty sublime, creative passing when he was in the midfield, and his shooting touch does leave a lot to be desired. He had 8 goals, but so many good opportunities resulted in shots wide or high, or right at the ‘keeper. Still, for a guy who didn’t get into the elite youth programs and only had NCAA experience before, he was awfully good. Hopefully, the shooting touch comes with more experience.
I really wish this silly “Partyboy” meme would go away already…
i like that line up
United have kind of caught on that it’s about time to rebuild the empire they once stood so highly on. Players like Pontius can do that with the guidance of players like Moreno. I think we’ll see something like this from United:
Even if United don’t win anything, we’ll at least see some exciting stuff from their players.
Keep up the work Ives. As a fan of the national team, it’s good to be able to hear from the up and comers. I find it great that we can put personalities to these guys that we as avid fans watch day in and day out. It certainly sounds like Pontius has a good head on his shoulders, hope he continues to improve and someday become a bigger piece to the national team puzzle.
I really enjoyed watching Pontius play last year but really only caught sight of him in 2 or 3 games. I am confused what his best position is. He had a couple highlight reel strikes from distance last year but also was able to add some assists. Any insight from the DCU fans who have seen him play a lot.
Right on, Zach. It is hard to thin of ‘Tino as young but the guy still is relatively speaking.
The great thing about Pontius is that Dude is a very friendly and down to earth guy. He showed up at the same DC sportsbar resturant that we were having a Puerto Rico Islanders CCL viewing party last year. Most of the PRI fans here in the DC area also support DCU. He was not only approachable, he actually interacted with our group. He seems like a really nice guy. I wish him all the best. I hope this season is even better than last year’s.
One of the brightest bright spots of young American talent. DC has a ton of good, young players. Pontius, Wallace, Quaranta, etc.
Wow…difficult to remember this guy was a rookie last season. Great to see guys making the jump and impacting right away.