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DC United Beat Seattle Sounders Off Chris Pontius Hat Trick

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Chris Pontius celebrates one of his three goals for DC United
Chris Pontius celebrates one of his three goals for DC United

These two teams don't disappoint. No, I've never seen a boring match between DC United and the Seattle Sounders.

There were so many great storylines in this match. Chris Pontius going from zero goals on the season at the beginning of the night to the team's leading scorer. United's makeshift backline holding the highly rated Seattle attack scoreless for 89 minutes. The Sounders' stoppage time comeback after many fans had departed for the parking lots.

I thought it unfortunate that ESPN2 chose to report United's supposed luck as the biggest storyline of the first half. Sure, Pontius's first goal came off a deflection, and his second really should have been saved by Kasey Keller. But what about the build up to those two goals? That was just luck too? Pontius's right-footed fake brought two defenders to their knees to set up his left footed strike that just happened to glance off Patrick Ianni's back. Deflection or not, that's a goal of the week candidate. And the second goal took a whole lot of skill too just to get a shot off while well marked.

There's lots of optimism all across the D.C. sports scene right now. Glad to see United is starting to share in it.

Had United preserved the shutout, I may have led with a different player here, but the man of the match has got to be the triple goal scorer Chris Pontius.  He took command of this match like no other player has this season (save for maybe Allsopp's two goal performance against a much weaker Wizards side last month).

Julius James put in probably the best defensive performance of his career tonight. James was able to frustrate Freddie Ljungberg from very early on, and blocked more shots than I can count. I've got to think he must have several bruises from all those shots he took. This is the Julius James we were all hoping to see eventually. If he can keep it up, he may keep this job permanently.

I was also extremely impressed with the play of Devon McTavish tonight. Did anyone else notice that virtually every scoring opportunity for Seattle in the first half came from their right flank? McTavish held Steve Zakuani and Leo Gonzalez to just one shot combined on his side of the field.

Troy Perkins and Dejan Jakovic also had productive games for United. Perkins was in absolute control of his box for the entire match. Early in the season he looked uncomfortable and noncomittal at times. Not tonight. And neither goal was his fault. Jakovic was quiet but solid.

In his first league appearance, Barry Rice did not look out of place. Playing in a new position on the left, Rice made some tackles and won some headers early after entering in the 48th minute. I don't fault him too much for trying to stop James Riley's shot but instead deflecting it into the net (which was NOT an own goal by any stretch of the imagination). But Rice was also beaten by Fredy Montero on a header for the Sounders' second goal.

United is still struggling to find the right target forward to pair with Quaranta. Last week it was Allsopp who didn't work out, this week it was Luciano Emilio. Might the team be looking at some new options in the transfer market shortly? The former MVP did very little. That's really all I can say. Even in the second half when we had the lead and Seattle was setting up their attack from the back, we would always see Quaranta running after defenders, but Emilio was nowhere to be found.

***

It's really an unfortunate time for a break from action, with DC United now on a five game unbeaten streak. This would be a perfect time for them to get some games back in the Eastern Conference with their players finally nearing top form, but a 16-day break from league play may suck out the team's momentum.

With tonight's victory, United climbs out of the cellar. They are now ahead of the Philadelphia Union, and only one game back of the New England Revolution. After the break though, United continues their four game road trip, with stops in Columbus, San Jose, and New York.