CHESTER, Pa. — After seven years in a D.C. United uniform, Chris Pontius knew it was time for a change of scenery.
While Pontius had served as the face of the franchise for a half-decade, ultimately logging 168 MLS matches for the club that drafted him in 2009, the decision to leave the nation's capital was a simple one. Having been limited to 39 league starts over the past three seasons, Pontius met with coach Ben Olsen and general manager Dave Kasper this past offseason to request a trade.
"It was relatively easy in the sense that I was honest with them," Pontius said on the Goal USA podcast. "Obviously I had injuries there, and I felt like that was looming over my head and I just wanted a fresh start. So that was my conversation with them. I was honest with Ben and Dave, and they understood my position."
United announced Dec. 7 — the day after the MLS Cup final — that the club had sent Pontius to the Philadelphia Union for allocation money. Making the move two hours up Interstate 95, the 28-year-old has started every match for a 3-2-0 Union side that finds itself tied for first in the Eastern Conference.
Finding a home on the left flank, Pontius has seamlessly slotted into a rebuilt attack that also features Dutch playmaker Roland Alberg and Brazilian winger Ilsinho. He didn't wait long to leave his mark, notching his first two-goal game since June 2012 in a 2-1 win at the Columbus Crew on March 12.
"It was a lot easier than I thought it would be," Pontius said of the transition. "I guess every year you have to acclimate to new players on a team. Even when I was in D.C. there was a lot of turnover, so there's a jelling period that goes on in preseason and through the early part of the year as you welcome new players into the team. The only thing that switched for me was I was the one being welcomed in."
Check out the full episode of the Goal USA podcast below as Pontius talks about everything from his development as a player in Southern California to the most memorable locker room prank he's seen.