CARSON, Calif. – As it turns out, Wednesday wasn’t that weird for Brian Ching.
The veteran striker, whose selection from the Houston Dynamo by the Montreal Impact in the 2011 Expansion Draft ranged from “contentious” to “outright hostile,” didn’t mistakenly pass to the guys in orange. He didn’t ignore the guys in blue, and he certainly didn’t sulk or put in a half-hearted effort.
Instead, he just did what he usually does – put in an honest shift, keep the central defense busy and create a few chances in his 45 minutes on the pitch. In the end, his old side won, with the Dynamo taking a 2-0 result from Montreal thanks to a pair of second-half goals.
“It felt kind of like a practice,” Ching told reporters afterward with a shrug.
That was his somewhat anti-climactic take on the day’s events, which saw him do battle primarily with old teammates Bobby Boswell and Geoff Cameron in the center of the Houston defense. Ching had originally threatened to retire rather than relocate to Montreal, but after a month of training with the Impact, has achieved some amount of equanimity.
“It’s definitely growing on me,” Ching explained of his new home. “You know, obviously it was a very emotional time for me when it all happened, but like I said, I’ve been with the team for about a month now. I enjoy playing with the guys, I enjoy the project of trying to build a competitive team here, and it’s a work in progress.
“Me, as far as being emotional, I’ve got over that. I had a lot of time to get over it, and I’m ready for us to play some more preseason games.”
His old coach, Dom Kinnear, felt the same way while looking on from from the Houston bench.
“To be honest, I guess that after those first couple of touches, you just coach the game,” Kinnear said of watching Ching, who he’d coached since 2004, go up against Boswell and Cameron. “You can’t get caught up in individual matchups or individual personalities. Brian’s out there for one reason: He’s trying to help his team, he’s trying to score goals.”
Montreal will have plenty to work on after a game that saw them struggle to string passes together. The few times they looked in sync came through Ching and fellow veteran Davy Arnaud, who was a menace roving up and down the right flank, and often cutting inside.
Their best chance came about half an hour into the game when Arnaud created space, then crossed for Ching at the top of the box. Ching back-heeled into the path of Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins, who shot high from 15 yards.
“Davy’s a good player, and it was one of the reasons I looked forward to coming up [to Montreal], to play with a good player like that,” Ching said. “I’ve known him a long time, I respect him a ton and I’m kind of excited about the prospect of playing with him together.”
Kinnear apologizes to Impact
When asked if Houston were still working on a deal to bring Ching back to Houston, Kinnear made it a point to keep whatever talks are taking place out of the headlines.
“I can’t talk about that,” Kinnear explained. “He’s Montreal’s player, and anything we try to do we try to be respectful of the other team, the other player. So we have to keep that under wraps, and that’s all I can say.”
He went on to try to clear some of the air that had been smoky since November, when Montreal took Ching with the first pick and the Dynamo responded fairly openly with their displeasure.
“I think in the beginning, we were a little bit liberal with what we were saying,” Kinnear said. “I think it was a little bit rude, and I apologize for that, back when Brian first got selected by Montreal in the Expansion Draft. I think it was too easily talked about because of who he is, and I think now just to be very professional, we have to keep it as quiet as possible.”