Move over Barack Obama, Washington, D.C. has an even newer face in town. In Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft on Thursday, D.C. United selected Gaucho senior Chris Pontius with the seventh overall pick.
Just six days after finding out where he’ll be spending the beginning of his professional career, Pontius is already getting a jump-start.
“It’s gone pretty fast,” Pontius said, ruing a shortage of time for goodbyes. Yet the UCSB standout is more than ready to make the jump to the MLS.
“I need to get out there and start training and impress the coaches, and that’s my only focus right now,” he said.
Pontius’ jump to the pro-ranks follows an illustrious career at UCSB. The Gaucho co-captain collected numerous accolades throughout his four years, including Big West Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 and a semi-finalist nod for the most prestigious award in college soccer, the Hermann Trophy.
He is by no means, however, the first UCSB soccer player to wind up in the MLS. In fact, just last year, six of Pontius’ teammates were drafted to the league. Midfielder Ciaran O’Brien and defender Andy Iro went fifth and sixth overall to Colorado and Columbus, respectively, while midfielder Eric Avila went 19th to FC Dallas. Pontius says he has learned a lot through keeping in touch with his former teammates.
“I’m still good friends with all of them,” Pontius said. “They’ve given me advice about what to expect.” This has certainly given the forward a realistic sense of the challenges he will surely face in the league.
“I know it’s going to be hard my first year, and frustrating at times,” he acknowledged. “But good things will come if I keep working hard.”
Despite excelling at forward in his final year as a Gaucho, Pontius says he would prefer to play the outside wing. However, his main preference is to play “wherever the team needs me.”
While it is impossible to say for certain how his career will pan out, Pontius will undoubtedly carry his laid-back SoCal mentality to the District of Columbia.
“I’m just going to keep working hard and see what happens.”