HOUSTON – Add "super sub" to the list of roles during Brian Ching’s career with the Houston Dynamo.
The face of the franchise began 2012 as a starter alongside Will Bruin, but a formation change and an effort to save the 34-year-old veteran's legs has meant a new role, that of a late-game substitute. While he is not the typical speedy late-game sub, Ching – who has scored three goals and an assist off the bench – has taken to his new responsibilities well.
“He’s a smart player and knows what he’s doing out there – it’s as simple as that,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He’s been around and gives you a lift when he steps on the field emotionally and playing-wise. You know he’s going to be going for goals and trying to create something and that’s what you get.”
Those skills were on full display in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over the New England Revolution. Ching was a playmaker, immediately setting up a chance for Bruin upon entering the match before igniting both Rico Clark’s and Boniek García’s goals.
While these types of opportunities are coming late in games, Ching’s work still starts with the first whistle. The veteran is a keen observer as the match wears on looking for any edge he may have when he finally gets the call.
“You get to watch for a good 60 or 70 minutes and see defender’s tendencies and see what type of movements are working on the field,” Ching said. “Then when you get in [you] implement those things. It’s a fun group to play with and, anytime I get to play with a lot of the starters, I enjoy that.”
One of those players he gets to play with at the end is Bruin, who said playing with Ching is like “riding a bike” as the pair knows how each other move and where they like the ball played. That chemistry is just one example of the type of impact the Dynamo leader has when he steps on the field.
“Guys have to worry about him when he comes in so it frees up space for other guys,” Bruin said. “He’s really good at dropping back and getting in and turning and playing balls behind. … You can tell that everybody’s play rises when he comes in.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.