Union Trade for MF Chris Pontius: ‘He's Tough, He's a Winner'

The Union have traded for D.C. United's Chris Pontius.

Reported one week ago and made official on Monday, the Union will send an undisclosed amount of allocation money to their Eastern Conference rival for the 28-year-old attacking midfielder and seven-year MLS veteran.

"This is a guy who we identified," Union manager Jim Curtin told CSNPhilly.com. "It goes back to how we want to play -- the formation and style. Chris is a guy who can fit that."

Curtin wouldn't go into specifics about that Union's new formation and style, influenced by newly hired sporting director, Earnie Stewart. Just that Pontius is the perfect fit.

"He's a guy that can play out wide, come inside and is comfortable with the ball at his feet," said Curtin, whose club will pay Pontius a reported $420,000 in 2016. "He can get goals, he has an engine and can run and cover ground. Defensively, too. He's a guy that represents this city in terms of blue collar. He's tough, he's a winner and since I've been a player and coach in this league, a guy I rated highly and was happy to finally get him on my team."

Pontius had a breakout season for United in 2011 and was a potent force in 2012, scoring a career-high 12 goals and four assists in 31 games. Since then it's been an injury nightmare for the midfielder, who missed all but six matches in 2014 with a hamstring issue and collected just 51 matches in the last three seasons.

"It's a concern, injuries are always a concern," Curtin said. "But he's not a lack of fitness guy, he's a physical freak. He may have been pushed too hard. You have to learn how to shut him down on some days. He's a guy who doesn't go halfway, whether he's practicing or playing in a game, he goes full speed. It's my job to manage that."

Curtin also noted that the team's new sports science department gave the club confidence to take a chance on a player with a history of soft tissue injuries.

"He's had hamstring issues, but a lot of that will be up to our new sports science department," Curtin said. "It's a brand new department that we've opened up and we think we can get guys with an injury history stronger and their muscles built up, where the soft tissue issues aren't going to pop up."

So what does Curtin expect from his newest attacking player?

"I believe he will take care of himself and is capable of a very strong season," he said. "I believe he's an eight goal, eight assist kind of guy, so that's what we're looking for."

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