Chris Pontius vs Dax McCarty - playoffs
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Tuesday training notes

A marked contrast from the sunny skies that the nation’s capital enjoyed on Sunday, the weather was all too unkind to D.C. United on the practice fields this morning. The Black-and-Red returned to training after having yesterday off before the rain came pouring down halfway through the session. The players then drove back to the stadium where they picked up some weights and did some cardio exercises to cap off the practice.

After extending its unbeaten streak at RFK Stadium to 19 games with its 1-0 home opener win against Real Salt Lake this past Saturday, the team is making initial preparations to face rival the New York Bulls in the first leg of the Atlantic Cup at Red Bull Arena (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC).

Victors of last year’s Atlantic Cup – a three-game regular-season series between United and the Red Bulls – the Black-and-Red has completely owned the match-up since its inception in 2002. In 11 total meetings between the regional rivals, DC has lifted the Atlantic Cup trophy nine times.

2012 was no different and midfielder Chris Pontius – United’s longest tenured player – reached milestone marks last year against New York. In the first leg, Pontius notched his first-ever hat trick to lead DC to a 4-1 victory and followed up that performance with a two-goal showing in the second leg. The California native’s first strike in that ensuing match also set the club record for quickest goal scored, at just 31 seconds inside the game.

“It’s usually a battle,” said Pontius when asked about the nature of the series. “Especially [the Red Bulls’] home opener – we’re going to get their best game.”

Following a cheeky chip shot that led to teammate Lionard Pajoy’s game-winner on Saturday, midfielder John Thorrington suffered a knee injury after colliding with Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio and was subsequently subbed out of the match. After being evaluated, the prognosis is a severe MCL sprain – a similar setback that captain Dwayne De Rosario experienced last year – with an 8-12 week timeline for recovery.

Having dealt with chronic muscular injuries at various points throughout his career, the 33-year-old has remained in relatively good spirits about the rehabilitation process for an unlucky injury.

“Mentally for me, this is much easier for me to deal with...This kind of injury where it’s a freak thing – I know what I’m dealing with doesn’t have to do with any past issues,” said Thorrington.

“For me, this first thing [Thorrington] provides is leadership, a sort of calmness because he’s been around for a long time playing this game…” said Pontius. “It sucks. I feel for John. You work all pre-season to get fit for the season and second game, this thing happens.”