Union

Well-rounded Chris Pontius embraces 'provider' status with Union

Well-rounded Chris Pontius embraces 'provider' status with Union

CHESTER, Pa. -- It’s been a productive week for Chris Pontius. 

Prior to getting engaged Sunday, the Union attacker notched a key assist in Saturday’s win against his former club, D.C. United. He followed that up Wednesday with two primary helpers in a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at Talen Energy Stadium.

“You can’t write it up any better,” Pontius said. “Things came pretty fast. Very, very happy right now.”

Although Pontius is happy about his production, it’s not expected. With a pair of assists Wednesday — a cross-box loft for the Fafa Picault header and centering drive for Ilsinho’s first of the season, the adept goalscorer, who led the Union with 12 goals in 2016, tied his career high in assists with six on the season. It also ties him with Alex for second in MLS in assists.

“Chris has always just been a solid, all-around soccer player,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “He has a knack in front of the goal, whether it’s to get goals or assists.”

So what changed for Pontius? He switched positions. Pontius had no goals and one assist in six games from the left side of the Union’s attack. But after moving to the right against the Montreal Impact on April 22, he still has no goals but the veteran has cashed in five assists in his last five games. 

“I think last year, whether it was Ilsinho or [Fabian] Herbers out on the right and dishing, we tend to find a little more space out wide,” Pontius said. “The guys on the left or the center are going to be the finishers. I’m happy being the provider.” 

Over that span, the Union are 3-0-2 and have outscored their opposition, 12-3. They are riding three-consecutive wins, which they’ve only done twice before in team history and have four-straight shutouts, a club record.

“He had a slow start to the year statistically but still was doing the work,” Curtin said. “Now you’re starting to see balls bounce his way. He made some really good decisive final passes tonight, he also did that against D.C. He’s confident now, a guy you can lean on and trust because he’s been through the battles. He’s playing very well right now, and happy with how he’s performing.”

Regardless of how it happens, Pontius is enjoying the success.

“There’s no better feeling than what we’re going through right now,” he said. “After a rough start, we’ve posted four shutouts in a row, three wins in a row and we have another home game this weekend, so it’s a good feeling right now. We’ve turned things around pretty quickly.”

Union suspend Keegan Rosenberry for 'inappropriate' tweet

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Union suspend Keegan Rosenberry for 'inappropriate' tweet

Keegan Rosenberry’s nightmare season has come to an end. 

The second-year right back, who has floated in and out of favor with Union manager Jim Curtin throughout the 2017 campaign, has been suspended for the final game of the regular season on Sunday against Orlando City, for what Curtin deemed “unprofessional” behavior on social media.

“His activity on social media prior to kickoff was inappropriate,” Curtin said. “It’s something that won’t be tolerated. It's a decision that he made, one that he’ll be held accountable for. It’s unprofessional and disrespectful to the guys in the locker room.” 

Shortly before the Union’s 3-2 loss to the Chicago Fire last Sunday, in which he wasn’t tapped to start, Rosenberry tweeted a photo of himself on the bench with an unhappy look on his face and the headline, “(Need some caption help)”. The image, which also included defender Richie Marquez, was viewed as a veiled comment on his lack of playing time. 

It’s since been deleted.

“He’s a great young player that I think will learn from this,” Curtin continued. “But as professionals, we are held to a standard. To do that right before kickoff is not something [Union sporting director Earnie Stewart] and I will tolerate.”

It’s been a rough year for Rosenberry, who, after playing every minute of the regular season in 2016, was benched in favor of a more defensively stout Ray Gaddis after the Union’s first six games. The 23-year-old 2016 Rookie of the Year runner-up only managed five more starts and eight appearances following his early-season struggles. 

Although he made a five-game comeback through August and September, an ankle injury knocked him back out. He finished the season with one assist and four shots.

Now, he’ll miss the finale.

Union midfielder Brian Carroll to retire after 15 MLS seasons

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Union midfielder Brian Carroll to retire after 15 MLS seasons

CHESTER, Pa. — Brian Carroll didn’t play a single minute in his first year in Major League Soccer.

That was in 2003.

Fourteen years later, he’s set to retire as one of the longest-tenured and accomplished players in league history.

Carroll, a mainstay of MLS and the Philadelphia Union, announced his well-deserved retirement Thursday ahead of the Union’s 2017 finale vs. Orlando City SC on Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium (4 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia+)

If he plays in Sunday’s game, it will be his first minutes of the season as age and injuries have started to creep up to the 36-year-old defensive midfielder who’s been battling for a time in a crowded position.

But as recently as last season, Carroll was still a key player for the Union, who he spent seven of his 15 MLS seasons with, wearing the captain’s armband at times and being a consummate pro in an ever-changing locker room.

In all for the Union, Carroll has played 13,818 minutes, the most in franchise history, and 165 games, second only to Sebastien Le Toux.

Throughout his MLS career, the savvy midfielder known for his tremendous work rate played a total of 370 games (tied for fourth in league history) and 30,776 minutes (sixth all-time), winning championships with his two previous teams — D.C. United in 2004 and the Columbus Crew in 2008. He also won the Supporters’ Shield four straight years, with D.C. in 2006 and 2007 and with Columbus in 2008 and 2009.

His teams made the playoffs in his first nine years in the league, a streak that culminated with the Union’s first-ever postseason appearance in 2011 — his first season in Philly.

Carroll, a former star player at Wake Forest, also had success at the international level, earning eight caps with the U.S. national team and also playing for a couple of U.S. youth teams.

The father of three now plans to move to Indianapolis with his family and embark on a new career in financial planning.