HOUSTON – “It’s very honorable, but he’s here and we have to look at the season ahead to be fair and put that behind us.”
That was the reaction from Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear when asked about what it took to get Brian Ching back, and it shows the mindset of the club which is to get ready for the upcoming season.
All the talk about contracts and trades can now fade into the background and be replaced by talk of what reacquiring the talismanic figure will mean to the club in 2012. For his teammates, that's welcoming home their leader and a player they feel can put them over the top.
“The numbers from last year speak for themselves because we went on a nine-match undefeated run in games he started,” goalkeeper Tally Hall told MLSsoccer.com. “I think this team has some special qualities about it. … To get him back is great because he’s such a big part of that.”
Including the MLS Cup Playoffs, Houston were an impressive 9-3-7 in the 19 games Ching started in 2011. Chipping in six goals total, he showed that he can be effective while on the field. But the impact on his club is certainly not relegated to when the scoreboard is lit up.
“He brings a calm presence and his experience is unmatched and needed,” Bobby Boswell told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a competitor and that starts in practice, and when you have guys busting their tails in practice, the games seem to take care of themselves. It’ll be good to have him wearing that captain’s armband again.”
One group Ching’s influence will play a role on is the young forwards. Houston have several in camp, including promising rookie Colin Rolfe and second year pro Will Bruin. The sophomore striker has earned a lot of praise for his play this preseason but is eager to have his mentor back.
“I learned a lot from him last year and I’m glad he came back,” Bruin told MLSsoccer.com. “I definitely don’t know it all, there’s always more to learn and he’s been around the block more than a few times.”
All told, the reasons the club shares Ching’s enthusiasm for him being back in Houston are extensive. And even though midfielder Colin Clark vowed to put a bounty on his No. 25 kit, Ching's return has put a bounce in everyone's step, for one reason or another.
“I’m glad to have him back because he’s my roommate on the road and I’m proud to say I didn’t cheat on him at all,” Boswell said with a laugh. “While he was gone, I roomed by myself and kept his place here warm.
“I’ve thought all along the organization would bring him back. It’s the right thing to do and hats off to them for getting it done. It would’ve been a travesty to open [BBVA Compass Stadium] without him and it’s just great to have him back.”
WATCH: Ching punishes Philly in playoffs
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.