D.C. United Player Of The Month: October 2012

Tasos Katopodis

United went 2-0-1 in October, with five goals being scored by five different players. So who is the player of the month?

This may be our most difficult month yet when it comes to our Player Of The Month voting for D.C. United. The team collected seven out of nine possible points in the month of October, and lots of players played well, but no player really stood out above all others. This isn't May, when Dwayne De Rosario was huge for D.C. Nor is it August, when Andy Najar emerged as the winner narrowly in a month filled with inconsistent play and disappointing results.

So with the team playing well, but not perfect, who are you voting for? This is the first month that we have more than four players on the ballot. So read the B&RU writers' choices, then cast a vote of your own.

Benuski: For my player of the month, I am going to go with the new captain of D.C. United: Chris Pontius. We all talk about the impact that players have had SDRWD (Since DeRo went down), and all of the team has stepped up. Even though he has said otherwise on the Capital Soccer Show, I think that Pontius has matured over the course of the past month and the past season. No longer is anyone saying that the team can't do X because Pontius doesn't track back enough or stay wide enough. And while he has not carried the team on the scoresheet, his vocal leadership and his leadership by example have really re-instilled the team with the Ben Olsen Work Ethic. I don't see anyone else on this team, outside of DeRo, who could do that.

AMT: United went unbeaten through the month of October, and the single biggest reason was the ridiculous play of Bill Hamid between the pipes. For that reason, he's my Player of the Month for October. Without Hamid's brick wall impression, United doesn't leave Toyota Park with the point that secured second place in the East. Without his big saves and head-standing throughout the current seven-game unbeaten streak - all without Dwayne De Rosario - United could be staring at the Knockout Round or, worse, be on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Beyond his obvious shot-stopping, though, this month saw Hamid do the little things - coming off his line, controlling his box, being vocal with his defense. He was, quite simply, United's best player for the month. Perry Kitchen, Andy Najar and Chris Pontius all have cases to be made, but to my mind, October was Hamid's month in a walk.

Chest: This one's tough, because United's play has been a bit all over the place. In Toronto, we were terrible; against the Crew, we were mostly very good; and in Chicago, we had a bad start and finish but a strong middle 50 minutes based on possession and speed of thought. As such, I'm going to go with the player who seems to be taking the next step in his career progression at the perfect time: Perry Kitchen. No one in a DC shirt (other than sleeper agent Milos Kocic) looked good at BMO Field, but since then Kitchen has been tremendous. He was my MOTM against the Columbus Crew for both his customary ball-winning and his ability to facilitate possession with awareness, intelligence, and touch. Against the Fire, he quietly had a lot to do with one of our stronger outings in ages in terms of ball movement and speed of play despite the fact that Chicago fielded first-choice midfield duo Pavel Pardo and Logan Pause. Young players make up the rest of my list, too: Bill Hamid and Andy Najar are my runners-up.

Stephen: Chris Pontius is the D.C. United player of the month for October for one simple reason—leadership matters. For the last seven matches, including the three in October, Pontius confidently and expertly wore the Captain’s armband and led his team into matches that demanded results. And the record for October speaks for itself, 2-0-1 and 7 of 9 points. These weren’t Pontius’ most technically sound matches, with 0 goals/assists and only 1 of 10 shots on goal, but his work rate was extremely high and his commitment to team defense was certainly an example to his teammates as he was all over the field pressing the opposing teams. He even turned down a long-awaited call up to the United States Men’s National Team to ensure he was healthy for D.C. United down the stretch. Bill Hamid is a deserving candidate as well for player of the month, but my vote goes to Ben Olsen’s new field general, CP13!

Martin: Listen, I've probably written "Pontius" and "maturity" more times in the last two months than anyone else on any of the internets. His newfound leadership and maturity are admirable, and its something that we hadn't seen from him previously. But that doesn't make him the player of the month. He's an attacking player, and yet he didn't take part in any of our five goals this month. And really, the past two months have been about getting results more than anything else. Leadership, movement, ball-winning... Those are all nice traits. Those are things we talk about early in the season. Right now, the results are all that matter, not how good we looked getting them. So my vote goes to the player who played the biggest role in earning United those results: Branko Boskovic. His pass to LEWIS NEAL to set up the game-winner against the Columbus Crew was one of the prettiest plays any United player has made all season. And then he did it again in Chicago. Boskovic has assisted on United's last two goals, which were two of the biggest goals of the season. My runner up though would be Brandon McDonald, who has been huge defensively, and also did the dirty work on the second goal against the Crew.

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