Pontius has Philadelphia aiming for playoffs: “Squad knows that”

philadelphiaunion.com
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Chris Pontius’ move to Philadelphia is going so well that he’s fallen in love with the city’s food without even trying a cheesesteak.

“That’ll be a postgame celebration thing,” Pontius said. “Probably won’t be a Friday night before a game thing. The food’s been great here. I’m looking forward to having a cheesesteak.”

Things are looking up for the 28-year-old midfielder, who was traded from DC United to Philadelphia on Dec. 7, the first big move in Earnie Stewart’s tenure as Union boss.

[ MORE: 2016 MLS Eastern Conference preview ]

When the Union open up their MLS slate come Sunday in Texas against FC Dallas, it’ll be the first time Pontius has pulled on a jersey that didn’t say DC United since 2008 when he graduated from UC Santa Barbara. On the way, he made 185 appearances for the Black-and-Red, scored 35 goals, was an MLS Best XI member and won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

So, yeah, things are going to be different.

@ChrisPontius13
@ChrisPontius13

“I was looking for a breath of fresh air, and that’s exactly what I’ve gotten,” Pontius said. “Very professional feel, both on and off the field. It’s a different formation than DC, so learning kind of a different role I guess you could say, figuring out which way that suits the team for me to play.

“I’ve gotta keep doing some of the stuff that made me successful in my career but also how can I help my teammates around me within this new system. It’s been fun here.”

Which isn’t to say leaving DC was an easy call. Pontius had battled injuries before and after his 31-game, 12-goal season in 2012, but the California man had grown comfortable in Washington. And comfort wasn’t something that was suiting him.

“When you’re making the decision whether to re-sign or to leave, to basically uproot what I had known for seven years, it’s very difficult,” he said. “Everyone around DC had treated me well. For me personally, I felt it was time to go. It had nothing to do with the fans. You fall into a comfort zone when you’re in a place for so long. You know what every day is going to be like. Some people may like that and it can be beneficial, but for me at this point in my career I needed something to push me a bit more. That’s when I realized it was time to go.”

[ MORE: PST’s MLS writer roundtable ]

And, so, a fresh start. While he has his first DC jersey from framed in his home, Pontius distributed his DC gear to friends, family and Goodwill (meaning there’s a legit chance some folks in the Beltway region may’ve picked up a Chris Pontius shirt worn by Chris Pontius).

SANDY, UT - OCTOBER 1: Chris Pontius #13 of D.C. United kicks the ball away from Nat Borchers #6 of Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium October 1, 2013 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

Amongst DC midfielders who played more than a quarter of the team’s games last season, Pontius was tops in total performance score per 90 minutes from advanced stats site Squawka. He’s high-motor player with a strong sense for space and a good pair of finishing boots.

Pontius loves what’s being asked of him in Philadelphia under coach Jim Curtin: make things happen while helping to rebuild a culture that’s only seen playoff soccer once in six seasons.

“They brought me in to be one of the leaders of the team,” Pontius said. “They’ve missed the playoffs quite a few years now and that’s the goal for this squad. I thought it would take longer for me to settle in for a team, and I felt fairly settled in right away with these guys. I’m getting a little bit louder every day in practice.

“We’re here to win and get into the playoffs. There’s no doubt about that. Squad knows that.”

One of the players on that squad is one who may score the goal or deliver the assist that helps Pontius find that first victory cheesesteak, and that’s former Shakhtar Donetsk wizard Ilsinho, who is drawing rave reviews around the Union.

[ MORE: Men in Blazers chat with Morris, Lampard, Porter ]

“He’s a pretty special player on the dribble, very very talented,” Pontius said. “His ability to beat people — I’ve seen a couple times in preseason he’s beaten a couple people with one movee. It forces defense on their heels a bit more, it creates space and time for the players around him. It’s nice to play with a player like that who can create and see things a little bit differently.”

Pontius is seeing things a bit differently, too, albeit in a different fashion. It’s a two-hour drive up the I-95 to get from Washington to Philadelphia, and Pontius has a heck of a change in view.

Premier League injury news, 2022-23 season

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Premier League injury news: It’s time to take a look at which players might be unavailable for matchweek 8 of the 2022-23 Premier League season, due to injury.

[ MORE: How to watch the Premier League on NBC ]

Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.


Arsenal injuries

OUT: Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf), Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh), Reiss Nelson (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (knee), Kieran Tierney (head), Cedric Soares (knock)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Matty Cash (hamstring), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee)

Bournemouth injuries

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee), Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford injuries

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Keane Lewis-Potter (knock), Ethan Pinnock (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Enock Mwepu (illness)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (knee)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT: James Tomkins (undisclosed), Jack Butland (hand), Nathan Ferguson (foot) | QUESTIONABLE: James McArthur (groin)

Everton injuries

OUT: Jordan Pickford (thigh), Ben Godfrey (broken leg), Yerry Mina (ankle), Nathan Patterson (ankle), Mason Holgate (knee), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee), Jordan Pickford (thigh)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Harry Wilson (knee), Joao Pahlinha (suspension), Manor Solomon (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Rodrigo (shoulder), Stuart Dallas (thigh)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Wilfried Ndidi (knock), Patson Daka (illness)

Liverpool injuries

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Curtis Jones (calf), Calvin Ramsay (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Anthony Martial (achilles), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Marcus Rashford (thigh), Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Newcastle United injuries

OUT: Aleksander Isak (leg), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Emil Krafth (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Bruno Guimaraes (thigh), Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Callum Wilson (thigh), Chris Wood (ribs), Elliott Anderson (knock)

Nottingham Forest injuries

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Orel Mangala (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Emmanuel Dennis (knock), Morgan Gibbs-White (knock), Scott McKenna (knee), Joe Worrall (broken nose)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

OUT: Lucas Moura (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (quad), Ben Davies (knee)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Costa (undisclosed)

Fulham vs Newcastle: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Fulham and Newcastle United look set to entertain when Aleksandar Mitrovic entertains his old mates for a Saturday morning tilt at Craven Cottage on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).

STREAM LIVE FULHAM vs NEWCASTLE

The Magpies are injury-hit but Eddie Howe has enjoyed pushing for offense and has largely found chances regardless of who’s been on the field, while Marco Silva’s Cottagers are healthy and have been on the front foot as often as possible during their Premier League return.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Fulham vs Newcastle.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Fulham vs Newcastle live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Somewhere in the multiverse, Mitrovic’s tied for the Golden Boot lead because Erling Haaland is an actual superhero. The Fulham man has six goals to tie Harry Kane five behind Man City’s prolific Norwegian hitman. Kenny Tete’s assisted three of those goals, and Tete’s also top six in tackles. Teammate Joao Palhinha is first.

Newcastle, meanwhile, is dealing with a ridiculous amount of injuries to key players, as Bruno Guimares, Chris Wood, and Alexander Isak were both hurt on international break to join Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin as walking wounded attackers.


Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle) OUT: Palhinha (suspended), Manor Solomn (knee), Harry Wilson (knee)

Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Chris Wood (chest), Callum Wilson (thigh), Allan Saint-Maximin (thigh), Bruno Guimares (thigh), Elliott Anderson (undisclosed). OUT: Alexander Isak (other), Emil Krafth (ACL),

Liverpool vs Brighton: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Liverpool plays its first Premier League match in 25 days when high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion debut a new manager as visitors at Anfield on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).

Roberto De Zerbi takes the wheel for the Seagulls following Graham Potter’s move to Chelsea, and Brighton will be staging its first match since a 5-2 demolition of Leicester City on Sept. 4.

STREAM LIVE LIVERPOOL vs BRIGHTON

That was one day after Liverpool drew Everton 0-0 at Goodison Park in a Merseyside derby that came on the heels of back-to-back wins for Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Liverpool’s currently four points back of fourth-place Brighton; Both clubs have played six matches, one fewer than 14 other Premier League sides.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Liverpool vs Brighton.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Liverpool vs Brighton live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Is Liverpool ready to turn chances into goals at a more familiar rate? The Reds’ expected goal total for this season is close to leaders Manchester City and Arsenal but its actual goal production is fifth and somewhat-inflated by their nine-goal beatdown of Bournemouth previously this season.

Brighton, meanwhile, has to show that it’s getting a handle on life after Graham Potter, as De Zerbi’s credentials say things might not look too different. The former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk boss craves possession in his teams and delivers chances as a boss in the manner you’d expect from a former attacking midfielder.


Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Caoimhin Kelleher (groin), Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee). OUT: Calvin Ramsay (lower back), Curtis Jones (tibia), Ibrahima Konate (knee), Naby Keita (thigh), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (thigh).

Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Enock Mwepu (illness). OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (lower leg)

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Chelsea looks to keep up its top-four pace when it visits Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

The match is Graham Potter’s first in the Premier League since leaving Brighton for new digs in London. The Blues drew Salzburg in 1-1 in Potter’s first match with Chelsea, and many eyes will be trained on his Starting XI.

STREAM LIVE CRYSTAL PALACE vs CHELSEA

Palace is winless in its last three Premier League matches including back-to-back draws versus Brentford and Newcastle. Patrick Vieira would love to make that a three-match unbeaten run with a good result Saturday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace vs Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Crystal Palace vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

What will Graham Potter’s first Premier League XI look like come Saturday? Kepa Arrizabalaga could be in goal if Edouard Mendy is not ready, but will Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remain a starter? Are Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic locks for the midfield? Lots to monitor as Christian Pulisic, Conor Gallagher, Ben Chilwell, and Hakim Ziyech will hope to have made a major impression.

Palace has played well against the “Big Six” this year, leading Man City 2-0 before an Erling Haaland hat trick, drawing Liverpool, and losing on Opening Day vs Arsenal while holding 57% of the ball and matching the Gunners in shots and shots on target. A win over the Blues sure would do the trick.


Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: James McArthur (groin). OUT: James Tomkins (calf), Nathan Ferguson (ankle), Jack Butland (hand)

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Edouard Mendy (knee), N’Golo Kante (thigh).