Dynamo forward Brian Ching took some time out of his busy offseason to speak with HoustonDynamo.com.
HD: Tell us how the offseason has been going so far. What have you been up to?
BC: In November, I went and visited the Oregon coast, Seattle, and Spokane. While on the west coast, I had the chance to visit with [Portland Timbers head coach] John Spencer. I was extremely happy to see that things were going well for him and think he will make a great coach. Don't worry, Dynamo fans - it was just a social visit!
After my visit with Spenny, I went to my girlfriend's parents' beach house in Lincoln, Oregon. Unfortunately, we got there right around the time that the cold fronts hit the northwest. Needless to say, I didn't get to surf, but it was beautiful to sit and watch the stormy, cold surf by the comfort of a warm fire and read a book. After a couple of days there, we went to visit my half-sister, Tracie, who is an Olympic gold and silver medalist in synchronized swimming. After a few days with Tracie, I went to the wedding of an old college friend and then went to Spokane to visit two of my best friends. It was the coldest weather I have ever been in, even colder than any of the four years that I lived there. The high was somewhere around 2 degrees!
My next trip was back to Hawaii for a week of fun with the family. I spent most of my trip playing with my nephew, Keahi, who is four and loves to surf. It was great to just go back and relax and not have any obligations while at home. After Christmas it was off to Tahoe with Dr. Mark Yezak and his family. One night, a foot-and-a-half of new snow fell, which made for some great skiing conditions. It was quite cold one of the days with a high of 10 degrees. One of my favorite activities was going down a slope in one of those snow disks with a small ramp on the end. Oh, and of course, the occasional snow ball fight made for some fun afternoons.
Next, I went to Las Vegas for New Year's Eve and Danny Cruz's birthday. It was the first year I have not been in Hawaii for the New Year. It was something different, but I enjoyed spending the time with some of the guys on the team.
HD: Do you find yourself watching any of the European soccer leagues during the offseason?
BC: I have not watched too many European games this offseason. I tape the English Premier League highlight show and keep up-to-date on what's going on when I can. The only games that I try to watch are when Stuart [Holden] is playing. I was able to see him score two great goals for Bolton. I had planned on going over to England to watch him play, but I don't think that I will be able to swing it this year.
HD: What do you do in the offseason to keep yourself in shape?
BC: Every morning that I am in Houston I go down to Plex and Danny Arnold runs me through a pretty tough workout. Sometimes I go for an afternoon jog around Memorial Park. When I am away from Houston, I usually just find a treadmill and run a few miles.
HD: What are your thoughts on the Dynamo’s newest acquisitions?
BC: I am excited about the new acquisitions, but am sad to see some of our guys move on. Having said that, I am looking forward to getting on the field and developing a relationship with Colin [Clark], Jason [Garey], Hunter [Freeman], and Jordan [Graye]. I think they are a young and athletic group of guys that will fit well with the core group of players we have here. I know that Dominic [Kinnear] and the coaching staff have been extremely busy assembling players and are continuing to look to make us better in 2011.
HD: With only two months until First Kick, what are you most looking forward to in the 2011 season?
BC: With the season drawing closer, I am looking forward to getting on the field and getting the team to gel together quickly. We have a lot of new faces and feel that they are going to fit in quite well here with the existing guys. I feel that, personally and as a team, we have a lot to prove, and I am looking forward to that challenge, probably more than any previous season.
HD: Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad retired recently to become an assistant coach at D.C. United. In your opinion, what did Pat mean to the Dynamo organization, and what is your favorite memory of him?
BC: I can't say enough about Pat and what he has meant to this organization. I wish him well and will miss him tremendously. He was one of the guys that I practically played my entire professional career with. It will be strange to go into the locker room and not see the guys that I have played with for my entire career; guys such as Pat, Brian [Mullan], and Craig [Waibel], to name a few.
One of my first memories of Pat was his first home game with San Jose. He will probably be mad at me for bringing this back up but, oh well [laughs]. In that game he basically batted the ball into our own net when no one was around. In all my years playing with him, it was one of the only mistakes that I have ever seen him make and one that we still laugh about today. But in all seriousness, he has anchored the best defense in the league over the last decade and has made game-changing saves in every MLS Cup we played in. He has given this team and the fans everything for every game and will be missed both as a player and as a friend.