More than a month after pulling himself out of the US national team’s January camp because of the same groin injury that knocked him out of last year's Eastern Conference Championship, D.C. United attacker Chris Pontius said he “feels very good” just nine days away from the season opener.
“I think I really turned the corner in the past two weeks,” the 25-year-old Pontius said. “It’s been good to participate in every practice. For me, that’s been a huge step forward in getting my fitness back up where it needs to be and getting some minutes in a game.
“I went 75 the other night [against Montreal] and felt very good afterward. That was kind of the big test for me: How I was going to respond to 75-90 minutes? My body responded well. I’m happy with where things are at.”
Pontius, who scored a career-high 12 goals last season and assisted on four more, made a serious run at winning MLS’s Comeback Player of the Year honors after spending the previous offseason recovering from a fractured tibia.
This offseason, he again has taken a measured approach toward his recovery and made sure he didn’t rush back – as difficult as turning down an invitation from USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann must have been.
“Yeah. It was frustrating,” Pontius said. “I would have liked to have healed faster. I would have liked to have been in the January camp with the national team. But in the end, I wasn’t ready for it. You’ve got to listen to your body and my body wasn’t ready for it. Sometimes it’s good to see the big picture in things, and I’m glad that I did.”
Pontius said he hopes to “sharpen everything up” in the next week and a half so he can be fully fit ahead of D.C.’s opener in Houston on March 2.
“It’s getting late in the preseason, so you’re getting some guys who are antsy to get into the real games now,” he said. “This next week and a half is crucial for us. I think we’ve got a good base fitness and a lot of soccer in us, we just need to clean up things offensively and defensively.”