Chris Pontius led DC United to a 4-1 victory against the visiting New York Red Bulls Sunday with a hat-trick, becoming the first player in five years of the North American Soccer Reporters voting for the MLS Player of the Week honors to be a two-time unanimous selection.
It is the third selection in three years for the fourth-year player out of the University of California – Santa Barbara. He was previously recognized in Week 22 of last season for a brace in a 4-0 home win against Vancouver and was a unanimous choice for Week 12 of the 2010 campaign with a hat-trick in a 3-2 road victory against the Seattle Sounders [editorial note: a scoring change occurred after selection, reducing his tally to two goals]. Pontius is the fourth player to earn unanimous selection for the honor since the NASR began voting for the award in 2008. Previous unanimous winners were Kenny Cooper (Dallas, 2008), Jeff Cunningham (Dallas, 2009) and Josh Wolff (KC, 2009).
In a showdown for second in the Eastern Conference between a pair of clubs that had been unbeaten for a combined nine matches, Pontius wasted no time on Sunday, scoring the opener after just eight minutes with a fantastic individual play. He stole the ball from three-time Player of the Week and March Player of the Month Thierry Henry and proceeded to drive toward goal before letting loose a howling shot with a defender hanging on him from 25 yards that dropped just underneath the crossbar.
The second goal was a bit easier as Maicon Santos did the lion’s share of the work, beating three defenders before sending in a cross that would deflect to Pontius for an easy finish into an empty net inside the six.
Rookie sensation Nick DeLeon pushed the lead to three before Pontius finished the hat-trick in the 69th minute with another wonderful individual display. A long ball headed by a New York defender fell into the path of the advancing striker about 40 yards out. Pontius gathered and swiftly beat another defender before slotting home the winner as both a defender and the goalkeeper dove in with attempts to tackle away the ball.
The striker also helped DC play to a 1-1 draw against the Montreal Impact earlier in the week. He nearly scored in the 62nd minute when he drove toward goal on the left, only to see his effort miss just wide of the near post with Matteo Ferrari on his shoulder making a challenge.
Leading vote getters among second choice selections were Eddie Gaven (Columbus), Patrick Nyarko (Chicago) and Josh Saunders (Los Angeles).
The Major League Soccer Player of the Week is selected each week of the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from The North American Soccer Reporters (NASR). The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More details and membership information can be found at www.soccerreporters.com.
How They Voted:
|Voter||First Choice||Second Choice|
|Steven Sandor||Chris Pontius (DC)||Carlos Valdes (PHI)|
|Phil Schoen||Chris Pontius (DC)||Carlos Valdes (PHI)|
|Frank Giase||Chris Pontius (DC)||Eddie Gaven (CLB)|
|Bobby McMahon||Chris Pontius (DC)||Eddie Gaven (CLB)|
|Buzz Carrick||Chris Pontius (DC)||Eddie Gaven (CLB)|
|Michael Lewis||Chris Pontius (DC)||Eddie Gaven (CLB)|
|Gerald Barnhart||Chris Pontius (DC)||Jimmy Nielsen (SKC)|
|Scott French||Chris Pontius (DC)||Josh Saunders (LA)|
|Marc Connolly||Chris Pontius (DC)||Josh Saunders (LA)|
|Don Ruiz||Chris Pontius (DC)||Josh Saunders (LA)|
|Steve Clare||Chris Pontius (DC)||Lovell Palmer (POR)|
|Beau Dure||Chris Pontius (DC)||Michael Farfan (PHI)|
|Lisa Eisenmenger||Chris Pontius (DC)||Omar Cummings (COL)|
|JP Dellacamera||Chris Pontius (DC)||Patrick Nyarko (CHI)|
|Orrin Schwartz||Chris Pontius (DC)||Patrick Nyarko (CHI)|
|Kyle McCarthy||Chris Pontius (DC)||Patrick Nyarko (CHI)|
|Michael C. Lewis||Chris Pontius (DC)||Patrick Nyarko (CHI)|
|Jonathan Tannenwald||Chris Pontius (DC)||Reggie Lambe (TOR)|
|Shaun Schafer||Chris Pontius (DC)||Reggie Lambe (TOR)|
|Elliott Almond||Chris Pontius (DC)||Will Bruin (HOU)|
|Kerith Gabriel||Chris Pontius (DC)||Zac MacMath (PHI)|
- 21 votes
What They Had to Say:
Beau Dure: “He could hardly have missed the second one, but the first was a terrific conversion off his own steal, and the third was a dart through the middle of the Red Bulls defense.”
Frank Giase: (Newark Star-Ledger): “Just the latest player to shred the Red Bulls defense.”
Shaun Schafer: (ColoradoSoccerNow.com): “Pontius knocked off New York in the sort of tour de force that forwards dream about. He probably would have been happier if the game had been 180 minutes.”