Chris Pontius puts Philadelphia Union "on his back" in victory vs. Crew

COLUMBUS, Ohio—In the Philadelphia Union’s 2-1 road victory over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, Chris Pontius emerged as perhaps an unlikely hero.

Playing from the left wing, the MLS veteran – playing in only his second match for Philadelphia – opened the scoring with a poacher’s finish in the first minute of stoppage time in the first half and earned his brace in the 71st minute on a powerful left-footed strike from the top of the box to seal a win for the Union.

“He’s always solid,” said Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin. “Today, I think he raised it to another level … Chris is a guy who took a leadership role tonight, put the team on his back a little bit and got us two big goals.”

The goals were the 32nd and 33rd of Pontius’ career, but his first professional strikes for a team other than D.C. United, where he played for  seven seasons.

But while he said the many new faces on the Union roster are all working to jell as a unit, his transition out of D.C. has gone smoothly.

“I thought it would be a lot tougher; I really did,” he said with a laugh. “But Jim’s staff – and credit to the guys on the team, too – they’ve made me feel at home here.”

The brace was his first since June 2012, but Pontius isn’t dwelling on his own accomplishment. He said the big takeaway from the match is the confidence the win will give the Union.

“It feels good,” he said. “A goal is a goal and any way you score it, it just feels good. More importantly, to get the W is the main thing. We wanted to be a confident team going into our home opener next weekend, and I feel like we found a good rhythm at times tonight.”

Curtin made it clear that Pontius is a big part of his plans. And the Union boss doesn’t see the attacker's goals stopping any time soon.

“He’s a guy that’s a double-digit goal scorer in this league when he stays healthy,” Curtin said. “He’s as fit as he’s been; he’s strong. I’m really happy for him to get two goals.”