First of all, congratulations on your invitation to attend the U.S. Men’s National Team January camp. I know it must have been tough to turn down, so describe your thought process with that decision.
Chris Pontius: You know, it wasn’t a decision that just happened overnight. Obviously, there were a lot of talks between me and the coaching staff and the trainers at DC and with the National Team training staff, and in the end, I just wasn’t 100%. If I don’t want this problem [with my groin] to keep reoccurring, then it’s best for me to step out of the camp. I probably could have gotten by, but I wouldn’t have been 100% and it wouldn’t have been fair to me and it wouldn’t have been fair to the coaches to show a less than 100% me.
Did you speak with Jurgen Klinsmann at all?
CP: Yeah, I spoke to him and he agreed with the decision. He said there would be plenty of more opportunities this year and to just get back into DC and perform well with them.
So, how did you spend the holidays, New Year’s and your brief break in a very short offseason?
CP: I was in DC until about the 21st of December and then just back home in California, hanging out with family and friends here. I went up to San Fran with some friends for New Year’s. Other than that, it’s been hanging out in my parents’ house and relaxing with the family.
Entering your fifth MLS season, what are you most looking forward to with coming back to camp?
CP: Yeah, so obviously now I know what to expect in camp and I’m very comfortable with the group of guys and everything, so I’m excited to see the new faces. If anything, it’s always fun to get to know the new personalities on the team – especially on these long trips, you get to spend a lot of time with each other. So, it’s good to see people break out of their shells. I think that’s what I’m looking forward to most.
With the SuperDraft just around the corner, what kind of advice would you have to the incoming rookies and other players that will soon be joining you in DC?
CP: If anything, just to make sure you latch on to some of the older, more established guys that are there and to learn from them. You want to make sure you get in with the right crowd of people and just to be yourself. I don’t think you need to be quiet or shy around most of the guys – be respectful of the older guys, but also be yourself. I think people respect it when you’re out there working hard and wanting to perform for the team.
It’s United’s shortest offseason ever, at 104 days – more than a month shorter than last year’s offseason, actually. Do you think it will affect the beginning of this year’s camp at all?
CP: No, I don’t think it will affect anything. I think guys have gotten enough down time. If anything, they should be ready to come back in and get back after it with the guys.