Come one, come all. Chris Pontius is having a party, and you, the fans, are invited to materialize from the rock you have been hiding under to revel in the recent on field splendor.
Take caution, however. That beam of light –– better known as Hope –– is quite blinding. But fear not, a certain Frenchman is no longer around to chide you for jumping ship so soon.
Things are finally beginning to take shape for the Philadelphia Union.
A bevy of positive results and magnificent displays are hardly an enigma. While there are a number of forces behind the Union’s newfound success, fortunateness is not one of them.
Union gaffer, Jim Curtin, has endured plenty of criticisms over the past few months, but his decision to move Chris Pontius, or Party Boy as he is known by fans in jest, to the right flank warrants a universal pat on the back.
Shifting Pontius to the other side of the park has made all the difference.
Early on, many fans whom I spoke to, noted the 30-year-old’s “slow start” to the new campaign. They questioned where the goals were and when they would come.
Contrary to a rather copious 2016 season –– in which Pontius managed to bag 14 goals in all competitions –– the MLS veteran has never really been considered an adept finisher, or goalscoring midfielder.
His 2016 campaign was a bit of an anomaly, but one that was certainly embraced by everyone associated with the Philadelphia Union. Mirroring that level of production was always going to be a tall-task for Pontius, but yet, he has managed to do so.
Only, the fruits of Pontius’s labor have come through him taking up a different role: that of provider.
Through their first six matches, the Union scored a measly 5 goals, with Pontius assisting on a lone Jay Simpson header in the home opener against Toronto Football Club.
Facing mounting pressure, Curtin was forced to return to the drawing board.
On April 22, when the Union welcomed the Montreal Impact to Talen Energy Stadium, Chris Pontius found himself lined up on the right, as opposed to the side closer to the dugouts.
Curtin’s decision to ship Pontius to the right has since opened the floodgates. The Union have scored 12 goals in their last 5 matches, with Pontius having a hand –– or rather a foot –– in goals scored in the last five contests. 5 assists in his last 5 matches, to be exact.
And after a pair of assists on Wednesday night versus Houston Dynamo, Pontius has tied his career high in assists (6) through just eleven matches. Only Toronto’s Víctor Vázquez has more (7).
Fans asking about goals need not look very far; they are right in front of all of us. Rather, fans should be asking how many more?
Party Boy is having his way on the pitch once again, and it is time more fans take notice.