Once Chris Pontius got into the flow of the game, he never got out of it.
Pontius had his first career hat trick with two goals late in the first half and another in the second to give D.C. United a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Thursday night in the final Major League Soccer game before the World Cup.
United (3-8-1) ran its unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1) and picked up its first road points of the season after losing its first four games away from RFK Stadium.
Pontius' hat trick was the third in the league this season and gave United a 3-0 lead. The Sounders (4-6-3) scored twice late in the game - James Riley in the 90th minute and Fredy Montero during the first minute of stoppage time - to make it close.
``I was hanging out wide probably the first 25 minutes and I didn't get the ball enough,'' said Pontius, who scored four goals as a rookie last season. ``I knew I had to impact the game somehow. I started coming inside a little bit more, I got those two balls (during the first half), and that's eventually how I scored.''
Pontius put United on the board late in the 39th minute with his first of the season.
He got the ball just beyond the top of the arc and wasn't able to shoot, but kept control and let fly with a shot that glanced off the back of Sounders midfielder Patrick Ianni and flew past goalkeeper Kasey Keller into the net.
Near the midpoint of the 44th minute, again just outside the arc, Pontius dribbled in to the top of the box and fired a shot that Keller, playing 6 yards off his line, deflected but couldn't grab. The ball squirted toward the goal, and Keller reacted in time to double back and get his hands on it, but it glanced off the post and into the net.
Late in the 79th minute, Pontius, playing just inside the top left corner of the box, headed a free kick from Santino Quaranta toward the far post. Keller leaped after it, but the ball tucked inside the post an instant before he got there.
``I wouldn't say they're the best goals I've ever scored,'' Pontius said. ``But finally, the ball is bouncing our way. That wasn't happening the first quarter of the season.''
United, which went 1-7-0 out of the gate with just four goals, has six goals - and seven points - in its last three games.
``Especially the way we started the season, we wanted to make sure we accumulated a whole bunch of points over the last couple weeks,'' coach Curt Onalfo said. ``Now, we have two weeks (during the World Cup break) to get ourselves better as a group and continue climbing up the standings until we get ourselves in range of making the playoffs.''
Riley drilled in a shot from the top right corner of the box to make it 3-1, then Montero headed in a cross from Freddie Ljungberg early in stoppage time to get the Sounders within one before time ran out.
Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller took the blame for Thursday's loss.
``Credit to the guys, they fought back and made it a game at the end,'' Keller said. ``For me to let them down like that is frustrating. But knowing we have 17 games left, no one is going to be working harder (than me) to try to get this right.''