Chris Pontius says he can handle being a marked man as DC United attack continues to sputter

Chris Pontius and Chance Myers

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USA Today Sports

WASHINGTON – Through five matches this season, it’s no secret that D.C. United’s offense has struggled mightily.

The club has scored two goals in five games and been shut out in road matches, leading to a 1-3-1 record and the second-to-last spot in the Eastern Conference. A rash of injuries have forced different lineup combinations from Ben Olsen, but one constant in the staring XI in the early going has been midfielder Chris Pontius.

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Pontius had a tremendous 2012 season – a campaign during which he scored 12 goals and assisted on four more in 31 games (26 starts). His reputation established, Pontius has proven a force on the ball and opposing defenses have taken notice during 2013, dedicating resources to stopping him that would normally be occupied by the likes of Dwayne De Rosario and Nick DeLeon.

In 450 minutes of action, Pontius has gotten off only five shots (two on goal) and been fouled 15 times. The defensive aggression targeting Pontius this season was quite evident in D.C.’s 1-0 loss against Kansas City on Friday, as he was fouled four times and hit the pitch a few more.

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“That’s going to happen," Pontius said following a rigorous Tuesday training session."It’s something that I need to deal with. I’m not complaining about it, I just need to find other ways to get involved.”

In his first five matches of 2012, Pontius was fouled five times, similar to 2011 (six) and 2010 (three). The increased physicality is all part of becoming one of the league’s more threatening attackers.

“If they’re fouling me consistently, then maybe I’m running off the ball a little bit more and playing 1-2,” Pontius said. “There are things that I need to do off the ball, too. I can handle it.”