A bittersweet night for D.C. United, which wins but loses Pontius to broken leg

 DavisPontius (ISIPhotos.com)

BY JONATHAN VERA

CARSON, Calif.–D.C. United received a very encouraging sign from striker Charlie Davies that he was ready to take on a bigger role as the club hits the playoff stretch drive, but also faced the devastating news that they lost one of their best performers of the 2011 season.

Davies scored a hat-trick to help lead D.C. United to a 3-0 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday night, a crucial victory that helped D.C. climb into playoff position. The news wasn't all positive though. Standout midfielder Chris Pontius was lost for the season after suffering a broken leg suffered after a vicious tackle by Chivas USA defender David Junior Lopes.

Davies stole the show at Home Depot Center, delivering a pair of first-half goals on assists from Pontius, before finishing the hat-trick with a 66th-minute finish, once against set up by Pontius.

“As a striker, you want to score goals, that’s your job,” said Davies. “I was very fortunate for my teammates to get through and I just made the run down the middle and they have me a lot of nice balls. Me and Chris [Pontius], it feels like we’ve been playing for a long time, the chemistry was there.”

“The goals were great, but to me he was almost more promising than the goals,” said Head Coach Ben Olsen. “A lot of his goals, let’s face it, a lot of the guys were putting it there. But the way he played tonight was more encouraging.”

Sadly, for Pontius, things took a turn for the worse.

In the 68th minute, David Junior Lopes and Pontius collided in the midfield while chasing a loose ball. A loud pop echoed throughout the stadium. Lopes received his marching orders and walked out on his own power, Pontius, on the other hand, had to leave the field on a stretcher.

D.C. United confirmed on late Saturday night that Pontius had suffered a non-displaced fracture of the right tibia.

“I just saw [Lopes] slide in with studs up and caught him,” said Davies. “I didn’t think he needed to slide, he was first to the ball anyway, and that was made it look more malicious because it looked like the intent was there to hurt him.”

Both parties had their side to the story, but Lopes maintains there was no intent to hurt and that it was Pontius who came in at him.

“I swear to you, I just went after the ball,” Lopes said. “My intent is always to play hard, but never to hurt anyone.”

This entry was posted in MLS- Chivas USA, MLS- D.C. United. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to A bittersweet night for D.C. United, which wins but loses Pontius to broken leg

  1. scott says:

    Pontius was man of the match (probably even player of the week), if it wasn’t for him Davies wouldn’t have scored, any of his goals. Anyone know how long he will be out?

  2. bryan says:

    this is terrible news!!! pontius was such a beast last night and has been all season. honestly, pontius should have never gone in on that tackle. he was the one who was late. but i’m not sure why lopes went sliding. HUGE lost for us though. we really need pontius.

  3. elgringorico says:

    CRAP! Was Pontius on the wing last night? This def means DeRo as a forward is over – will need him in MF to create. Not all is lost though if Davies is regaining form and Najar and DeRO can still pump the ball in.

  4. biff says:

    Ugly, ugly tackle. How many broken legs and screwed up careers will it take before the MLS gets serious about stopping Rambo tackles? Or is it going to take a broken leg to someone like Thierry Henry or Landon Donovan for action to happen? Jurgen Klinsmann needs to speak up on this issue, as he can command respect. And he now, as coach of the USMNT, has a vested interest in keeping the bones of MLS players like Pontius who might be representing the USMNT unbroken.

    The Bundesliga takes very harsh action, handing out one to three game suspensions, on tackles not half as bad as the tackle by David Junior Lopes on Pontius. Mario Gotze, the new German Lionel Messi, got a red card two weeks ago for simply waving his foot in frustration at a player with no contact made and a one-game suspension. Here is a link to the video

    link to youtube.com

    And here is the video of the David Junior Lopes tackle, beginning around the 5:20 mark. What is most disgusting about it, Lopes is squirming around on the ground like he is hurt, while Pontius with a broken leg is showing much more composure. And when Lopes gets the red card, he quits squirming, and you see it is all an act.

    link to youtube.com

  5. Chris says:

    DeRo was in the middle and Pontius was the forward with Davies. DeRo in the middle was a big improvement. Hopefully Wolff can fill in for Pontius and interchange half as well as Poontius/Davies did last night.

  6. A wise man once says:

    So, anyone know how long Pontius will be out?

  7. JoeW says:

    1. Pontius was at forward this match. I agree–he was MOTM…just a terrific performance on his part…lovely composure, good decisions with the ball, excellent distribution. Quaranta, Najar and DeRo also had terrific games.

    2. I don’t think it’s fair to say Davies wouldn’t have scored at all….DCU was ripping the left side of Chivas open all match. But this match showed something that a lot of folks haven’t noticed about Davies this year (except for those DCU fans who’ve seen his game a lot). Lost in the hyperbole about “diver” or “he’s not back” or his previous way of playing is that Davies has done a very good job finishing this year. I’d say that arguable he’s the best finisher the US has at the moment. Many of his decisions with the ball are still weak (Olson’s right, he was better this match). He first touch often betrays him. He has failed on a number of open field opportunities. But on one-touch chances, the man has been golden and he has been all year.

    3. Pontius is likely out the rest of the season.

    4. Ironically on this play, Lopes was first to the ball but he absolutely went in studs up. And normally I’d cut him some slack and just conclude that it was unfortunate how it played out except Lopes was involved in a range of very aggressive tackles and fouls through the match….it’s just that with this one he got to the ball first. And yes, he was writhing on the ground as if he’d been crippled (while it was Pontius with the broken leg who was relatively composed) until the red card comes out.

  8. chris says:

    thats the problem with South Americans its part of their game

  9. Joamiq says:

    I’ve watched that replay a number of times, and when you watch it in slow mo (5:50 in the video above), it’s clear that it’s not a dirty tackle – it’s not really even a tackle. It was a loose ball, Lopes clearly got there first and knocked it away, his studs were NOT up, and Pontius comes crashing into him. It was a really unlucky collision and it’s really unfortunate that Pontius got hurt, but it’s quite clear from the replay that that’s not even a foul, let alone a red card or a dirty play.

  10. GW says:

    I’ve been critical of Davies in the past. I still believe he needs a little more time to recover that relentless aggression and physicality that set him apart from most other Americans.

    However, I agree with you he has that indefinable “nose for the goal” that few other Americans have.

    If he can bring the rest of his game up to snuff then he may have a place in the USMNT.

    If that happens, Davies could just take off. Like most strikers he is a “confidence” guy and once he starts scoring it can become hard to stop.

    Damm shame about Pontius. He’s starting to remind me of Holden.

  11. Joamiq says:

    4. Actually, it would be impossible for his studs to be any further down than they are. The bottom of his right foot unquestionably is pointed towards the ground, and his left foot, which he used to strike the ball, is on the ground and not angled up. Pontius was late to the challenge and came in far more recklessly than Lopes, and unfortunately Pontius got the worst of the collision.

  12. The Dude says:

    I’m a neutral and I don’t think it was a red card. It was one of those plays when two players stupidly slide for the same ball and collide with each other. Neither player had to slide for that ball. Pontius was equally reckless to slide into Lopes and the defender just as easily could have been hurt. I’m sorry that Pontius broke his leg, but I don’t think there was any infraction there.

  13. b says:

    Great, another important MLS player injured.
    Forget about the rest of this season, obviously that is lost, will Pontius be back in time for the USMNT’s January camp?

  14. LA Bob says:

    Non-displaced Fracture:

    A non displaced fracture of the tibial plateau is when the tibia sustains a breakage or crack without a fragment of the bone becoming separated. These fractures normally have a better future outcome than displaced fractures and usually heal without surgical intervention within 3-4 months. Within this time the patient may be required not to weight bear and to wear a knee brace on their affected leg. Physical therapy rehabilitation exercises are needed to maintain leg strength soon after injury and should be continued throughout the recovery phase.

  15. elgringorico says:

    Poor Pontius… just when he was really fulfilling his potential. DCU fan or not you hate to see a determined guy like this get injured time and time again.

  16. Ryan says:

    I am a dc fan but it looked like Pontius came in late.

  17. 20 says:

    This injury reminds me of when de Jong broke Stuart Holden’s leg, I would guess a couple months.. meaning the rest of the season

  18. phillypride says:

    I honestly don’t see that Lopes did anything wrong. He got to the loose ball first and didn’t slide towards Pontius. After Lopes got the ball, Pontius came in hard and hit Lopes. They’re both lucky that Lopes’ right ankle and knee weren’t seriously injured.

  19. doorworker says:

    Yep. Yr take on the Lopes tackle/thespian routine is exactly the way it looked to me (prior to hearing, here, that CP got a broken leg). What a jerk.

  20. MiamiAl says:

    Very sorry indeed for Pontius. Great player! With that said, what is the status Branco Boscovic?

  21. spencer says:

    great game by pontius, just watching the goals Davies had the easiest hat trick of his life, the only thing easier would be only PK’s. Some of those goals pontius should have taken and would have if he was a natural forward.

  22. Paul Thomas says:

    A broken tibia is a very severe injury. He’s surely done for the season, and will be lucky to be fit for the start of next year.

  23. abc says:

    Thanks for posting that. So done for the year, including playoffs, but should recover well.

  24. A little Supersitcious... says:

    I don’t like the fact that he wears #13. He has been injury plagued since he came in the league. Constant hamstring injuiries, broken legs, etc. Ben get him a new number immediately!

  25. NC Jeff says:

    That’s the way I saw it, philly. In slow-motion, you can see that at the moment of contact, Lopes had his left heel and right toe on the ground. However, he did come from a pretty good amount of space to sweep it away at a nearly head-on angle. Also, didn’t see the game, but several have mentioned that he had a number of aggressive tackles earlier in the game … perhaps, the ref. had already told him – “Any more dangerous play from you and that’ll be it.”

  26. Chodilicus says:

    I feel bad for Pontius, who is a rising star in this league. But the call was ridiculous. It absolutely should have been a foul on Pontius. Lopes did not have his studs up at all and got the ball easily. Pontius was terribly late and should not have been sliding into Lopes like that.

    I am an RSL fan and have no biases here at all, but that is some of the worse officiating I have ever seen. The ref just saw the outcome and gave a red card because a guy broke his leg. Lopes should have been on the ground in pain, as Pontius came in way late and it must have hurt Lopes. Just because he didn’t break his leg doesn’t mean that wouldn’t hurt.