MONTREAL — Twenty-three players took the field for the Montreal Impact’s first official training session as an MLS club on Monday, but none drew more attention than the man who swore he’d never show up.
Striker Brian Ching was met by a throng of Montreal media at the Complexe sportif Marie-Victorin and stood his ground, insisting he does not regret his recent threats of retirement but that he’s also eager to help Montreal find their footing during their expansion season.
Ching said in November he would rather retire and join the Houston Dynamo front office than play for the Impact, who scooped him up in the Expansion Draft.
“I made an emotional decision at an emotional time, but I don’t have any regrets,” Ching told reporters on Monday. “The Impact fans have been great to me and said good luck on Twitter. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this city, how it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people. I’m a professional, and I’m here to pick up wins.”
Ching broke his silence on the situation for the first time last week, when he told the Houston media that he didn’t want to let the current situation determine his retirement after 10 seasons in the league.
“I decided that I want to retire on my own terms,” Ching said on Friday. “I don’t want to be dictated into retirement and honestly, I feel like I have another year of good soccer left in me.”
Ching’s remarks on Monday were echoed by Impact head coach Jesse Marsch, who insisted on the former Dynamo player’s professionalism.
“He’s on our team,” Marsch said on Monday. “I played against him, I worked with him on the national team and I know how great a professional and a competitor Brian is. He will give it all every day, as he still wants to be a winner on this team.”
Ching and 28-year-old defender Nelson Rivas did not take part in the latter half of the session and sat on the turf field, seemingly nursing some knocks, though Marsch made it clear that it was nothing but a precaution.
“We’re just being smart with how we take those guys along,” Marsch explained. “I believe that with all our veteran experience, our older guys, we can build on their fitness, know that the soccer parts are there and not put them in danger of being pushed too hard.”
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, midfielders Bryan Arguez and Hassoun Camara and forwards Justin Braun and Sanna Nyassi all had their medicals Monday while Zarek Valentin and Andrew Wenger are still with the United States U-23 team. Defender Bobby Burling did not attend training.
The team will work out in Montreal on Tuesday before departing for continued preseason training in Guadalajara, Mexico.