Chris Pontius, leading the line?
Steve Davis of Sports Illustrated today published a list of his 10 preseason storylines to watch, and D.C. United features in one of them. Davis is currently in Casa Grande, Arizona, which is where United recently played Sporting Kansas City, and so he seems to have his ear to the ground as to all the preseason gossip. With regards to the recovering Chris Pontius, Davis reports that "Olsen has him solidly stamped as a 'forward.'"
Now, this is just a brief blurb and probably not worth getting worked up over. But on its face, Pontius as a forward seems to go against his positioning for most of his time in MLS and the position that most fans assume he would play. And, obviously, it would affect the positioning of the rest of the team as well. All of that being said though, there are a few possibilities as to what Olsen could mean by that statement.
One thing that Olsen could have meant is that he sees Pontius as having a forward's mentality, always pressing forward with a nose for goal. This seems the least likely, as Olsen could have just said that instead of labeling him as a forward. He could also mean that he sees Pontius as a forward for the future, but will play him out of position so that United's best 11 can all be on the field together.
But what if Olsen really means that he sees Pontius as a forward, and intends to play him there?
If Ben Olsen truly sees Chris Pontius as a forward, that reshuffles the conventional wisdom for how United's lineup would shake out. But Pontius was putting on a clinic as a withdrawn forward in his last game last season, feeding three assists before having his leg broken, so maybe the idea isn't quite as crazy as it seems on the face. Obviously that would free up the left wing slot for someone like Nick DeLeon, Danny Cruz, or even Branko Boskovic; it would also likely move Dwayne De Rosario back to the attacking midfield position, which the readers of this blog are overwhelmingly against. I am sure that the commenters can come up with a myriad of other combinations as well.
As I said above, I am probably reading far too much into Davis' article, and all of this has been written before Hamdi Salihi has arrived in camp, pending his visa approval. My other major concern about this potential move, one that was voiced regularly in the post about De Rosario's position, would be its effect on De Rosario. We will have to wait for Pontius to come back to full strength before we know for sure what Olsen's plans are, but it can definitely be said that he is not afraid to tinker.
In the same article, Olsen also said that he wants Perry Kitchen to be comfortable at both holding midfield and center back. I'm hoping that he wants Kitchen to be comfortable there just as depth, because United currently has four seemingly capable center backs on the roster.