“Gutted” and “sad” are words that were thrown around a lot when talking to the Houston Dynamo about the selection of Brian Ching by the Montreal Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft Wednesday afternoon.
Ching – who was not available for comment - was one of nine players left exposed by the Dynamo. Due to his salary budget figure and age – Ching turns 34 next season – the club was confident the face of its franchise would be part of the organization come Wednesday night.
“It’s a gamble we took, and it didn’t pay off,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear Wednesday. “I’m very surprised he was selected, and I am sad.”
What makes it more surprising is that Ching made it known to the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday that he would retire before relocating to Montreal. The Impact looked past that declaration when they announced the 33-year-old as the first pick Wednesday.
“It’s hard for me to fathom that a team would take a player that doesn’t want to be there,” Dynamo President of Business Operations Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “Whether they intend to trade him, I don’t know what their thinking is at this point. We’re hoping there’s something that can be done to bring Brian back.”
What that “something” is was not clear as of Wednesday afternoon. A trade is a possibility, and Houston does have several young targets that Montreal could covet. However, if Montreal is looking to leverage Ching against the Dynamo to force Houston to take a deal, that may not go over well.
“That game’s not going to work with us,” Canetti said. “We told them so before the draft, but we’re holding out hope that there’s a route to keeping Brian in Dynamo orange and being part of our team in 2012.”
Naturally, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Ching’s playing future. He has admitted that next year could be his last, so the Dynamo icon could follow through on his threat and hang up his boots if a deal cannot be reached to return him to Houston. If he does, he will have a home waiting for him.
“I made that commitment to Brian well before today,” Canetti said. “I’ll have a space in our office for him Monday if he wants to be here. I’ve said from Day 1 that we want Brian on this team next year, and no one deserves to run through that tunnel in the new stadium more than he does. I don’t know what he’s going to do or how it’s going to play out, but I very much want Brian to be part of our club going forward.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com