D.C. United got three points for the first time in over three months thanks to Pontius' first goal of the season.
San Jose left back Justin Morrow had stirred controversy earlier in the week when he told mlssoccer.com that a loss to D.C. "looks terrible," and it seemed almost inevitable he would be at the center of the game's pivotal moment. In the ninth minute, he slid in clumsily on Chris Korb inside the box, taking out the D.C. man's legs and conceding a penalty.
Chris Pontius, returning from injury and without a goal yet this season after a career year in 2012, was relieved to convert the penalty and open his 2013 account, hitting his shot low and sending Jon Busch the wrong way.
San Jose, infamous for late comebacks in recent years, nearly equalized in the 73rd minute when Adam Jahn's left-footed strike across the box beat Bill Hamid but dinged off the post.
Of cause for concern for D.C. fans will be a first-half injury to Ethan White. White, who missed the 2012 season after knee surgery, was taken from the field with an apparent head injury and replaced by Conor Shanosky.
The win, United's fourth clean sheet of the season, gives D.C. nine points from 16 games. San Jose stays on 18 points from 17 games, just one spot above last-placed Chivas USA in the Western Conference.