D.C. United's worst fears were realized on Wednesday when the club announced that midfielder Chris Pontius will have an additional surgery on his left hamstring. The club expects that he will able to return at the end of the summer.
Pontius, who was named to the 2012 MLS Best XI, was expected to be one of the club's best attacking options coming into the 2014 campaign. However, he never fully healed from an off-season hamstring surgery and has yet to play in a match during 2014. It was originally expected that he would only be out of action for six to eight weeks after the initial surgery in November but that timeline has obviously been extended.
The club seems to have already prepared for a season without Pontius as they traded for Chicago Fire midfielder Chris Rolfe earlier in the month. Rolfe delivered the club's second goal in D.C. United's 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on April 5th. The club has also used midfielders Nick De Leon, Davy Arnaud and Lewis Neal in Pontius' absence in the left midfield position. Although the club struggled to create chances from the midfield early on in the season, their play has improved with each match.
The real concern that D.C. United has to have is the long-term health of Pontius. This is the third time in his career that he has missed significant playing time due to a leg injury. In 2010, he had season-ending surgery on his right hamstring and in 2011 he fractured his tibia. Pontius may only be 26 (he will turn 27 in May) but the club will need to start planning a future without Pontius.