one shy of tying the league record -- to lead Dynamo to victory in their first-ever match and highlight the opening weekend of Major League Soccer's 11th season.
Ching's four goals -- all assisted on by Dwayne De Rosario, which tied an MLS record -- led Dynamo to a 5-2 victory against the Colorado Rapids. The New York Red Bulls played the first game under their new ownership and came away with a point, as D.C. United stormed back from a two-goal halftime deficit to claim a 2-2 draw.
In the weekend's other games, the New England Revolution gained a small measure of revenge, defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 in a rematch of MLS Cup 2005. FC Dallas came from behind to defeat the Chicago Fire 3-2 at Pizza Hut Park, while Chivas USA won the battle of last year's expansion teams, knocking off Real Salt Lake 3-0 behind two Ante Razov goals, and the Kansas City Wizards also won at home, beating the Columbus Crew 3-1.
At Robertson Stadium, Ching had a hat trick by halftime as Dynamo began their new history in rollicking fashion before a crowd of better than 25,000 in Houston.
He put Dynamo into the lead in the 13th minute, getting the slightest of touches on a Wade Barrett effort to deflect it past Joe Cannon. But a tremendous long-range blast from Kyle Beckerman from all of 30 yards barely a minute later (15) drew Colorado level.
Then Ching scored twice before the break with nearly identical goals. Twice, De Rosario set Brian Mullan free on the right flank and twice the winger put in pinpoint crosses, each time Ching coming in to powerfully head home (36, 44).
Jovan Kirovski brought the Rapids back to within one with a spectacular free kick that sailed over the Houston wall in the 53rd minute, but Ching headed home a De Rosario corner kick in the 72nd minute to restore the two-goal margin. Alejandro Moreno then provided the finishing touch in stoppage time with a full bicycle kick that ripped into the back of the net.
At RFK Stadium, the new-look Red Bulls had a two-goal lead after just 18 minutes. Youri Djorkaeff once again exhibited his free kick mastery, whipping a right-footed curling, dipping shot over the United wall from almost 30 yards out (15). Then New York was gifted a second, D.C. 'keeper Troy Perkins spilling a cross from the right corner right at the feet of Edson Buddle, who had the simplest of tasks to open his Red Bulls account.
But Alecko Eskandarian made his 2005 debut, coming on to start the second half, and turned the game around. He netted his first since winning MVP honors with a two-goal day at MLS Cup 2004, latching onto a pinpoint cross from Josh Gros and blasting a first-time left-footed volley into the roof of the net on 55 minutes.
Then 10 minutes later center back Facundo Erpen snuck forward and drove a long-range shot low and hard from well outside the Red Bulls area to pull United level.
At The Home Depot Center on Saturday, it was a night full of emotion. The Galaxy first remembered Doug Hamilton, the club's president and general manager, who passed away during the preseason. They then received their championship rings from last November's triumph against the Revolution.
But unlike that result, to open the '06 season it was New England who hit for the game's only goal, Clint Dempsey sliding in to head home an Andy Dorman free kick from the left edge of the penalty area in the 33rd minute.
At Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas defeated their Brimstone Cup rivals with a come-from-behind victory and a hometown fairytale come true.
Chad Barrett gave Chicago a 12th-minute lead, when FCD 'keeper Dario Sala couldn't hold Chris Rolfe's powerful angled shot, and the rebound trickled across the goal to Barrett, who calmly drove it to the back of the net.
But the home side drew level when the always-dangerous Carlos Ruiz made a nice run up the midfield before finding Arturo Alvarez on the left of the penalty area, and he beat Zach Thornton with a shot inside the far post.
The Fire again pulled into the lead in the 54th minute when Ivan Guerrero stripped a Dallas defender of the ball on the left and swung in a cross to a wide-open Rolfe as the Hoops defense was caught out, and he made no mistake in ripping a left-footed drive past Sala.
But Dallas scored twice in four minutes to claim the full points. First Roberto Mina latched onto a bouncing ball outside the area and sent in a shot that deflected off a defender to wrong-foot Thornton in the 66th minute. Then Dallas native Kenny Cooper, making his MLS debut, got onto the end of a Bobby Rhine cross from the right and headed home the game-winner.
In Carson, Calif., on Sunday, Chivas USA got their second season off to a good start with a dominating performance over last year's fellow expansion side.
The home side broke through after just 21 minutes. New signing Claudio Suarez -- earlier named to the provisional Mexico roster for the FIFA World Cup -- sent a ball over the top from midfield and Razov raced onto it behind the Real defense, coolly finding the back of the net.
Four minutes later Juan Pablo Garcia doubled the lead with a magnificent goal. With his back to the goal some 25 yards out, he quickly turned and let loose a well-placed curling shot that sailed over Garlick and found the left side netting.
In the 66th minute, Razov completed his double. He collected the ball some 35 yards out from goal, shook loose from a marker and unloaded a 25-yard laser beam past Garlick.
At Arrowhead Stadium, the Wizards jumped out to an early lead with goals just four minutes apart midway through the first half. First Davy Arnaud scored with a quick shot on the turn after Matt Groenwald found him with an early cross from the right (21), then Jack Jewsbury picked up the second when he banged home a rebound from near the goal line after Jon Busch parried an angled blast by Jose Burciaga Jr.
Rookie Kei Kamara pulled one of those goals for the Crew in the 33rd minute when he finished off a through ball from Gaven after the new Crew acquisition skipped through a pair of Crew players.
But Eddie Johnson restored the two-goal margin and hit for his first goal with the Wizards in the 61st minute, using every bit of his considerable speed to redirect Scott Sealy's cross from the right wing just inside the left post.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.