Chris Pontius out with concussion vs. Toronto FC; club waiting on severity of injury
WASHINGTON – Just when it looked as though D.C. United might finally be getting healthy, another injury will leave them without one of their biggest stars this weekend – and potentially well into the summer.
Midfielder and 2012 Best XI selection Chris Pontius is out for United’s match against Toronto at RFK Stadium (7 pm ET, watch on MLS Live) with a concussion he suffered in Wednesday’s Open Cup match against Philadelphia. Although head coach Ben Olsen said Friday that he had not yet reviewed the play that led to Pontius' injury, he did indicate that the worst-case scenario could mean the team's leading scorer from last season could be out for some time.
“We’ve got to wait and see how long it takes him," Olsen said. "Sometimes it takes a week, sometimes it takes a couple months, so we’ll just wait."
Pontius scored a career-high 12 goals last season but has yet to score a goal this year in 11 appearances, a clear indicator of D.C.'s surprising struggles a year after reaching the Eastern Conference Championship. Pontius also missed a combined three games in late April and May after sustaining a groin injury.
With injuries once again mounting, newly-acquired defender Alain Rochat could make his D.C. United debut. Rochat, who was dealt to United from Vancouver last week, said he felt good soccer-wise and is ready to step in if called upon.
“I had all week to adjust myself with the group,” Rochat said. “That was good. I watched the game on Wednesday to have an idea the way they want to play. So far it’s been very good.”
Added Olsen: “He understands how this goes. He’s an experienced player that I hope is going to help us with depth and, I hope, help push our starters.”
Olsen – who will face former teammate and Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen for the first time – said some of his players will need to “gut it out” Saturday given the quick turnaround from Wednesday’s 3-1 win. Despite that Open Cup win, in MLS play neither United nor Toronto have won a match since March 9 with D.C. trailing TFC by two points in the standings.
“The reality is we can skip a team for the first time in a while,” said Olsen, whose club is 10-3-2 against Toronto all-time. “We [have a chance] to not be in last place after this game, so that’s a real focus for us.”