WASHINGTON — Last week, Chris Pontius was able to get a taste of perhaps the most coveted experience a soccer player can have: the chance to represent his country.
Pontius was a late addition to the US squad training in Los Angeles ahead of Friday night’s 1-0 friendly defeat against Costa Rica. And although he didn’t make the 18-man roster against the Ticos, he returned to DC with fresh motivation.
“Obviously I wanted to play in the game, but hopefully there’s a lot more opportunities that come along with this,” he said. “I talked with Jurgen and he said that I’ve got to keep doing my thing here with DC and he’ll be watching every game.”
The call-up wasn’t the first time Pontius had been in camp with the national team. After a strong rookie season in 2009, he was called into Bob Bradley’s January 2010 camp at the Home Depot Center.
“To be honest, I went into it with an open mind,” he said. “I knew I was the last one called in — me and [Jonathan] Spector — so I just wanted to make the best of the opportunity.”
Pontius thought he did well for his second camp, but in the end he didn’t have the time to crack the gameday roster. But the United standout can take solace in Klinsmann’s comments: If players perform for their clubs, the call-ups will keep coming.
“It certainly makes my job a little easier,” Olsen said of Klinsmann’s comments. “It should be standard, but a little extra motivation from those guys to make sure they’re doing their job on the weekends. … He’s shown if you’re doing your job for your club team, that’s a boost to get you in with the national team.”
In an interesting twist, the only goal of the game against Costa Rica was scored by former DC defender Rodney Wallace. Wallace was Pontius’ roommate when the two were at United together.
“It’s funny how that happened,” Pontius said. “I’m happy for Rodney — his first call-up and I know he’s been struggling as of late in Portland, so I think this was good for him, good for his confidence. First game, first goal, can’t ask for anything better for him.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.