Pontius converts penalty kick to lift DC United
WASHINGTON (AP)—Chris Pontius converted a penalty kick in the 11th minute and D.C. United snapped a club-record 13-game winless streak with their first victory since March 9, beating the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Saturday night.
San Jose (4-7-6) was shut out for the third time in four games and has failed to score in each of its seven losses this season.
”It’s been brutal,” United coach Ben Olsen said of the winless streak. ”It’s been brutal for the staff and the players. It’s been brutal for the organization and it’s been brutal for our fans.”
Pontius echoed Olsen’s sentiment about the team’s run of futility.
”Awful, terrible,” he said. ”It tests you off the field as well, mentally. It’s not something that any of us want to be in this position.”
For the second straight week D.C. United (2-11-3) was able to take an early lead thanks to a kick from the spot. United captain John Thorrington rewarded defender Chris Korb’s run down the right side of the field into the penalty box with a perfectly weighted ball. Korb was immediately fouled by Earthquakes defender Justin Morrow.
Pontius, who started the initial sequence with a pass to Thorrington, made no doubts about his first goal of the season by blasting it right as San Jose goalie Jon Busch guessed left.
”I felt like I actually got into a groove this game,” Pontius said. It’s a bit of pressure off my back now.”
Despite finally earning all three points, the United players know the job isn’t over especially with the league cup on the horizon next week.
”Our goals in the beginning of the season weren’t to win two games in MLS,” Thorrington said. ”So hopefully this is just a stepping stone.”
After failing to earn a penalty kick through the first 14 games of the season, D.C. United has taken one in successive games.
San Jose’s best chance of the night came in the 61st minute when midfielder Shea Salinas found space behind Daniel Woolard and Conor Shanosky just outside the 6-yard box before firing a left footed shot right at goalie Bill Hamid, who made the point-blank save.
Salinas kept the pressure coming two minutes later with another attempt from inside the penalty area, this time having his shot blocked by defender Alain Rochat.
San Jose kept pressing in the second half and nearly scored again as forward Adam Jahn got free inside the box and rifled a left-footed shot that beat Hamid only to go off the left goal post and out of bounds.
Hamid saved three shots on the night in earning his fourth shutout of the season.
”The confidence has always been high, we know we have the talent,” Hamid said. ”It’s just finding the final touch, that’s all it’s been.”
Reigning Major League Soccer MVP Chris Wondolowski, who leads San Jose with five goals this season and is tied for the team lead with three assists, did not make the trip east after injuring his right foot in training this week. There is no timetable on his return as the club will re-evaluate him.