This offseason, the Philadelphia Union were looking to add experience to a youthful lineup. Was Chris Pontius the solution the team needed?
Chris Pontius joined the Philadelphia Union as one of the most questioned signings in the team’s history ahead of the 2016 season. In an offseason of suspense, fans awaited the new additions from new sporting director Earnie Stewart. Pontius joined the Union on December 7, in exchange for coveted allocation money, and many confused jaws hit the floor.
Nearly a season later, those jaws are still on the floor, but for many different reasons. While the team is on track to set season records, Pontius is looking to hit some milestones of his own. But who could have foreseen the success of a player that many consider past his prime?
More from Philadelphia Union
- VIDEO: Even Philly Fans Can’t Hate Messi’s First Goal vs Philadelphia Union
- DraftKings Pennsylvania Promo Will Give You $200 Bonus GUARANTEED for Betting Just $5
- Philadelphia Union 2021 MLS season preview
- Don’t laugh, but the Union might be Philadelphia’s next champions
- Philadelphia Union: Previewing upcoming matchup vs Atlanta United
The concern for Pontius stemmed from his inability to complete a full season. Since joining the league in 2009, Chris has one season in which he has played over 30 games. While he has seen other seasons in the mid to upper 20’s, Pontius has never seen a consistent routine of form. Much of this is due to a career that has been plagued by the injury bug.
In 2010, Pontius went down with a hamstring injury that ended his season. In 2011, a fractured tibia. 2012 saw a complete season in which he was able to score a career-high 12 goals. 2013 and 2014 included a string of injuries that included a second hamstring injury that left Pontius out of the lineup until September. Pontius completed 2015, with one of his least productive full seasons (23 games played) with three goals and one assist in 1500 minutes. So why take the risk?
The why may never be answered, however, this season has shown that the reward lies within the risk and that taking a large risk may, in fact, yield a large reward. In the case of Chris Pontius, it certainly has. This season Pontius has played all 27 games for the Union, starting 26. Already logging over 2000 minutes of play time, the most since 2012. He has played more than 80 minutes in 15 games as well as going the full 90 minutes in 8 games.
Even more impressive is how productive he has been in his time this season. In 27 games, Pontius has notched 10 goals and is on pace to pass his 2012 personal best. Pontius has also tied his assist best with 5 this season and with 7 games remaining he is on pace to surpass that as well. Pontius has been a threat going to goal boasting his best shot on goal percentage in his career with a rate of 49.1%. This presence has made him target for defenders being the victim of 28 fouls, helping the Union attack from a lethal position on the field, all while remaining clean without being carded. And to round out his successful season Pontius boasts and average player rating of 7.12 for the season just behind captain Tranquillo Barnetta and Fabinho.
Chris Pontius’ success on a personal level are great to see, but his strengths that he brings to the team are even greater. Still yet to complete his first season with the Union, Pontius has created a threat on the left that Philly has never seen before. With or without the ball, Pontius has shown his sense to find the open field. When wide, he is able to find a path to the goal. This sense and vision have created many opportunities for his teammates to flourish. The Philadelphia Union are one goal off the league lead with 47 scored on the season.
For Chris Pontius, this season has been a renaissance for a man whose future was no doubt in question. The resurgence has sparked a new life within himself, as well as a spark for the Philadelphia Union, who had plateaued as a team that was always just shy of the playoffs. This is a new look team and Chris Pontius is one of the staples holding this new team together.