The Captain has returned.
With Houston needing a lifeline, Brian Ching nodded Colin Clark's cross past Bill Hamid in the 89th minute to pull out a 2-2 draw at D.C. United on Saturday and keep ahead in the standings.
Ching—who put in his first full shift of the season—has spent the past few weeks talking about how the team needed to get tougher, both mentally and physically. And with his team down a goal despite controlling the game for long stretches, the big Hawaiian led by example.
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“It’s not a position you want to be in—down a goal—but I thought we showed some heart to battle back and not give up,” Ching said. “We came back twice. It shows that the team is fighting.”
Nodding home an equalizer to earn a point on the road is the kind of play the Dynamo have been seeking. In his comments after Tuesday’s training, Ching talked about how players should want the ball in tough situations, and that’s what Houston fans saw on Saturday when Ching finished a late chance on a night in which his team missed plenty of opportunities to take control.
“[I’m happy] because we were down 2-1 with minutes to go, but [I’m not happy] because ... I think we left some chances out on the field,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said.
Ching’s performance was supported by a Houston squad that showed signs of its old self. In both halves, the team came out of the locker on its front foot against a motivated DC squad—and with home side up to the task, it made for an exciting game in which Houston drove the ball up the field while consistently playing an uptempo, aggressive style.
It’s something the team has searched for during their recent struggles. Ching’s late heroics and the Dynamo's strong start in a road game provide Houston positives, though there remains the knowledge that there’s still work to be done.
“All in all, when you are down a goal, all you can do is continue to fight until you get back in [the game] and that’s what the guys did tonight," said Brad Davis.
“[Coming from behind] has happened a lot this year," Davis added. "We’ve lost games, but we still feel like we definitely need to get on a roll and we need to figure out a way to start winning some games.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.