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Gaucho vs. Gaucho?

In the fall of 2005 and '06, Chris Pontius and Kyle Reynish were teammates at UC Santa Barbara and, in the second year, won an NCAA championship together. Tomorrow night at RFK Stadium, they quite possibly will be in the starting lineup for opposing clubs as Pontius and D.C. United face Reynish and Real Salt Lake.

Pontius, the leading candidate for MLS rookie of the year, is likely to be in the lineup again. And with Chris Seitz sidelined by a shoulder injury and Nick Rimando questionable in his recovery from a finger laceration, third-year goalkeeper Reynish might end up making his first league start for RSL. (Rimando did make the trip.)

Pontius, Reynish and former UCSB teammate Tino Nuñez are planning to have dinner together tonight. "I'm not going to give them any information," Pontius said, "but I'll try to get some out of them."

For Pontius's thoughts on Reynish, keep reading this thread.....

"He's a good friend of mine," Pontius said. "We hang out a lot in California."

"He basically led us to the national championship in my sophomore year, I'll tell you that much. He saved us in a number of games. He's got good size [6 feet 3], he's an excellent shot-stopper, so it's going to be tough if he's playing tomorrow. From what I hear, he'll play."

"His inexperience maybe would make people feel like we can get to him, but knowing Kyle and knowing how talented he is, anything from 20 yards and out, it is going to be tough to beat him. We've got to get into the box and hopefully score there."

On the subject of Pontius, where do you think he should play tomorrow? Right flank? Forward? Playmaker? Or deep central midfield like he did Wednesday?

By Steve Goff  |  May 22, 2009; 12:27 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS  
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Does anyone else worry that by playing Pontius all over that DC United will slow down his progress this year?

Posted by: robb10 | May 22, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Who is the gaucho amigo
Why is he standing
In your spangled leather poncho
And your elevator shoes
Bodacious cowboys...

--Steely Dan

With that sort of imagery, I hope these 2 gauchos find some chix to go to dinner with them, just to even things out a bit...

Posted by: JkR- | May 22, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait . . . I thought you were writing about these . . . they were the best

Posted by: OWNTF | May 22, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I expect it will help Pontius develop and sharpen a wide range of skills and understanding of the game at this level. Too few Americans really understand the game when it's played with pace and skill because they're already slotted into rigid styles of play and positions.

Posted by: fischy | May 22, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Bet Tino "Big boy" Nunez will want to go to an all-you-can-eat place!

Crossing and diagonal runs with overlapping players will beat Reynish

Posted by: J_S_F | May 22, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree with fischy. However, he does need to find a label that fits, and then he can talk about all the positions he's played.

If he ever wants to break into the National team, or a European team, they should want him as a player and not a utility. He might well suffer from Spector syndrome.

On the bright side, no matter where he plays, he always seems to score. I haven't seen him play central midfield, (as we are never on TV) but I look forward to witnessing that.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | May 22, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Joe: please pass your insights on to Tommy.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | May 22, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I would play Pontius where he was Wednesday night -- in Olsen's "spot." The wings are covered by Fred, Wallace, Quaranta & Barklage. The backup forwards by N'Silu and Boyzz. Right now deep midfield is a hold without Ben, Pontius fills it better than anyone else on the roster.

Posted by: griffin1108 | May 22, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind Pontius having to move around so much. I wonder if he'll be a sub tomorrow, though, since he played 80 minutes Wednesday. I imagine we'll be seeing this team:

------------- Moreno - Emilio
-------------------- Gomez
Wallace - Jacobson - Simms - Quaranta
--------- Burch - Jakovic - Namoff
------------------ Crayton

I don't see Soehn changing his rotation policy until results force him to, so I figure Pontius and Fred will be rested. Namoff would be given a break, but his most reasonable backup (McTavish) went 90 minutes. Since Namoff was subbed out in the USOC game, I figure he goes 90 tomorrow.

Considering RSL's recent conversion to a defensive approach on the road, I think it's good to have people like Fred and Pontius available as subs. Both offer a change of pace from what we'll start with. Fred's dribbling ability might actually be a good thing to have from the start, since RSL's new approach involves a midfield-congesting 451.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | May 22, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

am i allowed to quibble with The Great Goff and his use of "playmaker" as a position? they're all playmakers aren't they? i just find it to be an irksome and vague usage.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | May 22, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse


Goff didn't create the term... and anyone who ever watched Etcheverry and Chris Armas on the same field knows that not everyone is there to "make plays," so to speak...

Posted by: me_ahogo | May 22, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it really makes sense to put Pontius in the defensive MF slot. Of course having Simms back in the line up will help, but Chris didn't do much defensively on Wednesday night. He didn't really have to do much in the first half though. I think Chest_Rockwell's line up makes sense to me.

Posted by: fedssocr | May 22, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

On the subject of Pontius, where do you think he should play tomorrow? Right flank? Forward? Playmaker? Or deep central midfield like he did Wednesday?

My Lineup


Coach: Pontius

Posted by: jleppig | May 22, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

@ dimesmakedollars- No. Wallace is not a playmaker. Emilio is not a playmaker, despite decent flicks at times.

A playmaker is usually an offensive midfielder who sits behind the forward/s, and between the side midfielders, setting up plays with skill, passing, and vision. Pirlo can technically be counted as a playmaker, and Klejstan certainly is one.

Closer to home? Christian Gomez and, in part, Jaime Moreno are prime examples. They don't always finish the play, but they know how to start it.

It's like side midfielders who make up for, perhaps, less than accurate shooting with endurance, crossing, and two way play.

Playmakers compensate for low level defending with the ability to distribute and punish the other team for not watching their back.

Blanco. The man makes something from little with long range passing.

On a different note... can Pontius play goalie?

Posted by: UnitedDemon | May 22, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

@UnitedDemon: On a different note... can Pontius play goalie?

$10 says Soehn tries him in goal this weekend.

Posted by: jleppig | May 22, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Pontius, the leading candidate for MLS rookie of the year..."

Um, I think Kasey Keller has a pretty good case. Call Pontius "a" leading candidate. I don't know Pontius' personality, but he needs to focus more in league matches, and I don't know if all the hype would help or hurt that. No matter, he's a huge pickup for DC and let's hope we can keep him down on the farm for a while!

The platoon on the flanks (Fred/Wallace; Quaranta/Pontius) is the way to go for league matches. I think Chest is on the money.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | May 22, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Kasey Keller does not qualify as a "rookie". :-)

Posted by: fedssocr | May 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse


Does a certain amount of foreign experience count players out of that discussion? If so, obviously Keller won't be a candidate, and perhaps Jakovic as well (he's already considered a best XI candidate, so I don't see how he'd be left out of ROY voting otherwise). I know MLB had that controversy with Ichiro, Daisuke, and Matsui. By rule, any first year MLB player is a rookie, though some voters don't see it that way.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | May 22, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

There's newcomer of the year. Keller and Jakovic and Montero qualify. Then there's rookie of the year, which I believe is for players who have not played professionally at all before coming to MLS.



I'm sure Pontius and Wallace will get on the field at some point.

Posted by: the_slammer | May 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

This discussion makes me realize how much I like the team this year. So many good or even great players to choose from, it feels like you can't go wrong.

Posted by: WorldCup | May 22, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

MLS has a Newcomer of the Year award.

Posted by: Reignking | May 22, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Kasey Keller? What good has he done with his captain's armband? He also screwed his club getting a red card for handling the ball outside the box. Who else has done that this year? He doesn't deserve crap. Maybe an allstar nod. Seattle's fans are very busy stuffing the ballot box so there's a reward for him...

Freddy "touch of a rapist" Montero is far from rookie or new comer of the year as well. He hasn't done jack since he was arrested.

Sorry, to harsh the mellow, but the only Sounder worthy of much recognition is Osvaldo Alonso. It's funny that no one mentions that dude.

Posted by: DadRyan | May 22, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to throw in my PARTYBOY for ROTY nomination!

Posted by: DadRyan | May 22, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

i know Goff didn't create the term "playmaker" and i know what it's supposed to evoke - i saw Etcheverry back in the day and Schelotto would obviously fit the bill, among others who were noted. i just think it's a bad term. what kind of "plays" are they making? scoring opportunities is the assumption, but doesn't Namoff also "make plays" in the sense of denying scoring chances? isn't a keeper coming out to grab a cross "making a play" (insert Crayton/Kocic/Wicks joke here)?

to me it just smacks of the nonsense athletes spew in interviews: "we just have to go out, stay within ourselves and make some plays". these things do nothing to elucidate what's actually happening. just a pet peeve is all.

wait, it's 6pm on the Friday of a 3-day weekend! why am i still here?

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | May 22, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Listen, man, its a technical term for a specifc role. Ever heard about speed demons, shot stoppers, target forwards, utility players (see McTavish,) destroyers, second strikers, the list goes on and on.

If you don't feel like using the language of a sports fan, well, that's a choice. But arguing about the need to call someone a playmaker or not loses sight of the fact that, yes, we are part of a club, a clan who share a common plane of enjoyment and unsterstanding.

Short stop is not every player in a baseball game. He has special skills.

And that's what I think.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | May 22, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Shakespeare, Miller, Wilson. Now there were playmakers.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 22, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

How psyched would Pontius be to score on his former teammate? About as psyched as his former teammate would be if he stoned Pontius.

Should be an interesting matchup!

Posted by: DrBeaker | May 22, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I would like Moreno, Fred, Quaranto to come in as sub. I like young guns to play. It seems every the group of young players come in they keep scoring. Maybe that's my own mind set but I really think there is something in the young guns and those guys I mentioned above seem more effective to come in as subs.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | May 22, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

@UnitedDemon - OK, OK, I relent!

on another note, anyone watching this USL game on FSC? I guess I've never seen Cleveland's "stadium" before, but it's particularly horrendous: a high school turf field with american football lines on it and huge black swaths along the sidelines, some of which is in play and some not. it's enough to make you pine for one of those Central American pitches with the gopher holes in it.

on the plus side, they appear to have an organ player. interesting touch.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | May 22, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

On the "playmaker" controversy, I have little to add. However, I am eternally thankful that since Gallardo left, there's been no more talk of "spraying" the ball around the field. That's a term that got old really fast.

Posted by: edgeonyou | May 22, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Playmaker is definitely a position in soccer. Sure all players make plays but "playmaker" isn't something you'll call a goal keeper or a defensive player. Just like in the NFL, you wouldn't call your long snapper a "playmaker" even if he's a pro-bowler.

Regarding Pontius, I am not sure I agree with moving him around so much. Why not just find a spot for him and let him learn how to properly play that position? Doesn't mean you can't use him in other spots when the need arises but that should be the exception.

@jleppig: I bet Tom Soehn loves your line up :)

Posted by: tundey | May 23, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

I want this line up:
----- ------Pontius - N'Sius
------------- Gomez
Wallace - Barkladge - Simms - Quaranta
--------- Burch - Jakovic - Namoff

Morono and Khumalo sub in for Gomez and N'Sius. sp!

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | May 23, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Mr Soehn's problem is rooted in his lack of experience. He lacks patience with his team choices, and his decisions so far on player selection have been radical since he arrived. So if he keeps his job for the next two years it will be because he discovers that a "winning mentality" is developed after at least a decade on the job. Good luck, sir.

Posted by: anjon2 | May 23, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

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