When forward Brian Ching went down on Thursday night against Real Salt Lake holding his leg, all of Robertson Stadium held its collective breath. When the forward immediately indicated to the bench that the injury was serious, the forward’s season and his World Cup chances seemed doubtful at best.
However, Monday morning at practice, Ching was jogging at times and seemed to be optimistic about his return to the Dynamo and making that return in time to give himself a shot at the U.S. national team’s World Cup squad.
“I feel pretty good, considering how I felt the day after the game,” Ching told MLSsoccer.com. “I did a lot more today than I thought I was going to do. Hopefully that's a good sign that I'm healing quicker than normal.”
On Tuesday, the Dynamo forward had an MRI on his hamstring, and the results were expected, but slightly worse than Ching had hoped.
“The MRI revealed a little bit more than a mild tear,” said the forward. “They said the tear was on the surface of the muscle, but it was a long tear. I’m thinking three to four weeks, but it may be longer.”
The Hawaiian is hopeful, though, based on his previous experience with hamstring injuries, to be back sooner rather than later.
“Last year I pulled my hamstring at the wrong time,” Ching noted. “I came back and had no issues after the initial pull. I am definitely going to be careful. I'm not going to rush it back and injure myself even longer. I definitely want to push it, but not too hard so I set myself back.”
That said, Ching will have a hard time not being tempted to push it. In 2006, the Dynamo forward was part of the U.S. team that traveled to Germany for the World Cup. However, then coach Bruce Arena opted to play other players as the U.S. was dumped out of the World Cup.
“The hamstring injury has set me back and has hurt my chances a little bit for the World Cup, which is frustrating,” said Ching. “I spoke with one of the assistant coaches [of the U.S. team] who inquired about how bad it was ... but if today was any indication of me coming back, I think being back at the end of April [or the] beginning of May is pretty realistic.”
If Ching can make it back by that soon, he’s hopeful that his return to the Dynamo will keep him in contention for the World Cup squad. The U.S. has friendlies scheduled for May 25 against the Czech Republic and May 29 against Turkey. The more important date for Ching will likely be the preliminary roster deadline of 30 names to be submitted by May 11.
“Hopefully I can get back on the field as quick as I can and get back up to fitness, and that's all I can do at this point,” said Ching. “My goal is to get back by the end of April, early May, because I feel that would give me the best chance to get back on the World Cup team and, of course, help the Dynamo.”