To end an era, it is appropriate to revisit its beginnings. Brian Ching introduced the city of Houston to MLS with a sensational four-goal performance in the club’s first win, a 5-2 result over the Colorado Rapids on April 2, 2006, in the Dynamo’s first-ever match at Robertson Stadium.
Five-and-half-years later, in Houston’s 1-0 win over Philadelphia in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Ching closed the door on the Dynamo’s tenure at Robertson.
“I was thinking about that all day, what a way it would be to close it out,” Ching said. “The stars just aligned for me and our team. The goal meant a lot to make it easier to close out the series.”
Next year, the Dynamo will move into their own, new stadium, currently under construction in downtown Houston. Odds are the side will not be very different, and Ching even fired in a ceremonial first goal at the groundbreaking back in February. On Thursday, Ching closed the club’s Robertson Stadium era with a trademark goal: a header from a set piece. Just seconds before the halftime whistle, Ching made a strong run across the box to get on the end of a Brad Davis free kick and flick the ball into the side netting, past the outstretched arms of Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
The face of soccer in Houston, Ching has scored seven playoff goals in Dynamo orange — he added another with San Jose in 2005 — and his latest sent the club to the conference championship game for the fourth time in six seasons.
“It was a huge momentum swing for us,” Ching said. “It gave us the momentum, and it kind of crushed them heading into half time. It let us relax and play a little more at ease.”
After the goal, Houston was up 3-1 on aggregate. With a two-goal lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play, head coach Dominic Kinnear was able to sub Ching off and allow the fans to gave him a standing ovation one last time at Robertson Stadium.
“I was just happy to do it in front of our fans at Robertson,” Ching said.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.
Hear more from Ching about his goal: