Signature cutback allowing him to score at a rapid pace
Chris Pontius might as well apply for some patents for his trademark move.
He displayed his ability to cut back the ball to his right foot and bend it inside the far post from the left in his first MLS match as a rookie in 2009.
He scored his first goal of 2012 in nearly the same manner. But in his fourth season, the 25-year-old's arsenal of moves is more refined, and his best place on the field has become hard to define. After an inconsistent start to the year, he now has a team- and career-high nine goals for Eastern Conference-leading D.C. United (10-5-3), including one in a 3-0 victory over Montreal on Saturday.
"Chris is unique, right?" United coach Ben Olsen said after moving Pontius from forward, where he had scored his first eight goals, back to the midfield for the first time since March. "He has these attributes, and you can put him up top or underneath and also out wide."
Pontius made the most of the move with a beautiful and backbreaking game winner just before halftime, his fourth goal in three matches. Receiving the ball 40 yards out, Pontius shook off Impact midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic and raced toward the goal. As he entered the box, he made rookie Calum Mallace spin in circles with his signature move. But it was the surprising touch back to his left that followed that freed Pontius to slam the ball past goalkeeper Evan Bush.
"If I can get a shot on my right and I get an opening, I'm going to take it," Pontius said when asked to explain his thought process. "If that's closed down, then I'm looking to go one-two and put it to my left and go that way. Your brain is going a hundred miles an hour when you are going at that speed, and you have to make split-second decisions. I made the right decision on the goal."
Putting him on the MLS All-Star roster won't be nearly as difficult. In fact, leaving him off might be the equivalent of copyright infringement.