The captain has returned.
With Houston needing of a lifeline, Brain Ching nodded Colin Clark's cross past Bill Hamid in the 89th minute to pull out a 2-2 draw at D.C. United and keep ahead in the standings. Ching – who put in his first full shift of the season – spent the past few weeks talking about how the team needed to get tougher, both mentally and physically. And with his team down a goal despite controlling the game for long stretches, Ching led by example.
“It’s not a position you want to be in — down a goal — but I thought we showed some heart to battle back and not give up,” Ching said. “We came back twice. It shows that the team is fighting.”
Putting home an equalizer to earn a point on the road is the kind of play the Dynamo have been seeking. In his comments after Tuesday’s training, Ching talked about how players should want the ball in tough situations. That’s what Houston fans saw on Saturday when Ching finished a late chance on a night in which the Dynamo missed plenty of opportunities to take control.
“Yes, [I’m happy] because we were down 2-1 with minutes to go, and no [I’m not happy] because, like I said, I think we left some chances out on the field,” said Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear.
Ching’s performance was supported by a Houston squad that showed signs of its old self. The team came out of the locker in both halves squarely on its front foot against a motivated D.C. squad, and with the home side up to the task, it made for an exciting game that saw Houston drive the ball up the field, consistently playing an up-tempo, aggressive style.
It is something the team has searched for during its recent struggles. Ching’s late heroics and the Dynamo's strong start provide positives that Houston can take from the road draw with the knowledge that there is still work to be done.
“All in all, when you are down a goal, all you can do is continue to fight until you get back in [the game], and that’s what the guys did tonight," said Brad Davis, who had to leave the match at halftime due to a sore groin. "[Coming from behind] has happened a lot this year. We’ve lost games, but we still feel like we definitely need to get on a roll and we need to figure out a way to start winning some games.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.