Monday, December 31, 2012

Ching coming back: “I still feel like I can contribute”

A lot of fans of former Spokane Shadow PDL and Gonzaga standout Brian Ching may have gotten one of their wishes for 2013 granted today as the Hawaiian decided he will play at least one more season in Major League Soccer for the Houston Dynamo.

Ching told writer Darrell Lovell that after a month of contemplating his potential retirement after 11 years in the league, the 1998 USL Premier Development League Rookie of the Year for the Shadow will lace them up yet again.

But he did so with a caveat. He may retire at any time.

“I just really want to feel like I’m bringing value,” he told Lovell. “I don’t want to be just holding on. I want to be someone who’s contributing, but if the point comes at any time next season where I don’t feel like I’m contributing or helping the team then I’ll step aside and retire. As long as I still feel I can help the team I’d like to do that.”

The 2012 campaign was far more eventful off the field than on it for the MLS veteran. The former US international saw what could have been his final year take a bizarre twist before the season even began.

Having stated he was looking forward to perhaps playing his final season with the Dynamo in 2012 as they open their new stadium in Houston, the club left the former US international unprotected in the expansion draft. The Montreal Impact took a gamble that having Ching in the coffers could entice quality trade offer; and though early indications were that he may just retire instead, Ching actually reported to the Impact preseason camp. Eventually though, he would be sent back to the Dynamo in exchange for a conditional second round selection in next year’s draft.

The move allowed the former MLS Cup MVP to be on the pitch when the “House that Ching Built,” BBVA Compass Stadium, made its debut in May. The new soccer-specific facility features 16 pillars that immortalized players and coaches that were key in making the Dynamo a part of the community. Among those honored were Ching as well as fellow former Shadow defdender Craig Waibel, who had retired the previous year.  

The Dynamo plodded through an average season, watching as Ching transitioned from a starter to a key player contributing off the bench. Once in the postseason, however, the team showed its veteran presence, returning to the MLS Cup Final for a rematch with the LA Galaxy. His fifth MLS Cup appearance, however, came up short for the second consecutive year for the three-time champion.