Chris Pontius fractures tibia in D.C. United win, is likely out for rest of MLS season

September 11, 2011

D.C. United doesn’t expect Chris Pontius to return this season after the third-year attacker fractured his right tibia in the second half of a 3-0 victory over Chivas USA late Saturday.

Pontius, enjoying a breakout season, had just registered his third assist of the match when he was involved in a sliding collision with David Junior Lopes. The Chivas defender was issued a red card, although the consensus in the United delegation was that Lopes showed no malicious intent.

“It’s a 50-50 tackle and Chris ended up on the wrong end,” Coach Ben Olsen said Sunday. “If there is such thing as a good fracture, this is a good one. It’s a clean break. It will heal up. I really feel for him because he was becoming a special player.”

Pontius (seven goals, five assists) recently returned from the second U.S. national team call-up of his career.

Although United officials haven’t completely ruled out Pontius’s return this fall, head athletic trainer Brian Goodstein said the chances are “highly unlikely.”

Surgery isn’t necessary, Goodstein said, but Pontius will need to wait for the leg to stabilize before returning to Washington. He was not available for an interview but wrote on his Twitter page that he was “obviously frustrated with another injury but I have to remain positive about it.”

Pontius, 24, had started every regular season match this season — the only United player to do so — after missing almost half of the 2010 campaign with hamstring problems. His goal total is third best on the squad, and by setting up each of Charlie Davies’s three goals Saturday, he moved into a tie for second on the team in assists.

A fixture on the left wing all season, he partnered with Davies on the front line for the first time Saturday.

“The chemistry we had in that one game together, it was like we had been playing together for years,” said Davies, who ended a 21 / 2-month scoring drought and claimed third place in the MLS scoring race with 11 goals, one behind New York’s Thierry Henry and Los Angeles’s Landon Donovan.

“It’s sad to see because the lineup we had out there was so dynamic and we were playing at our very best. Now we’re losing a tremendous player for us all year.”

Santino Quaranta (one goal, three assists in 14 appearances) filled Pontius’s role Saturday and, in the wake of the injury, is likely to remain there for the foreseeable future. Austin da Luz is another option. United (8-7-10) will visit Seattle (13-6-9) this Saturday.

“It’s one spot we certainly can fill adequately,” Olsen said. United could also look to make a move before the MLS roster deadline Thursday, although at this late period, Olsen said that route is unlikely.

●MARYLAND 0, JMU 0: The No. 3 Terps women’s team completed an undefeated nonconference schedule for the third straight season following a tie with the Dukes on the road.

Junior Olivia Wagner led Maryland with seven shots.

●ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE: West Bromwich Albion won, 1-0, at Norwich for its first victory in English soccer’s Premier League this season. Blackburn collected its first point, though the club remains last in the standings.

Peter Odemwingie got the only goal at Carrow Road after just three minutes. In the other game, Blackburn tied 1-1 at Fulham, leaving both teams without a win through four matches.

— From news services

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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