When Brian Ching made his New Year’s Eve announcement that he would be donning Houston Dynamo orange for another season, it was understandably good news for club and player alike.
Now, both parties are working to put the final touches on a contract to keep him in Houston.
Ching’s current deal expires at the end of February. The two sides have been working toward an agreement that makes sense for both sides and, according to those with knowledge of the situation, there has been progress.
The Dynamo confirmed to MLSsoccer.com on Friday that those talks are taking place.
“We’ve been in contact with Brian’s agent over the last several weeks and we’re working to find an agreement to resolve his contract situation,” said Dynamo president Chris Canetti.
While the Dynamo and Ching’s agent work on that, the striker is in Arizona preparing for the season ahead. Part of that will be preparing to reprise a role that saw him shift from full-time starter to a player looking to make his mark late in games. It is the role he played late last year and one of the important factors in his return.
“The way I was being used last year, I can be effective this year the same way,” Ching said.
That role is one of the reasons that head coach Dominic Kinnear feels that makes Ching can make an impact. But he admits it was touch and go when first implemented.
“Last year, coming off the bench late in games, at first it wasn’t something he really enjoyed because he’s such a proud person,” the Dynamo boss said. “But as the year wore on he realized that if that’s the way we’re going to play him on Saturday, then Monday through Friday won’t be such a struggle for him, which it can be. I think he kind of enjoyed it.
“I still think he wants to be out there for every minute, but just his presence in the locker room and on the bench and when he comes on the field is still a very valuable asset.”
With his role settled, Ching is now getting his body in a position to back up the decision his mind – and likely, his heart – made to give it another go.
To do that, the striker will surely have to work his way into physical shape during Houston’s preseason training. But mentally, Ching is ahead of the game as the fire to compete, and stay involved in the locker room and on the field, burns bright.
It’s something he felt during the Dynamo’s very short offseason.
“Taking away about a month, you kind of missed getting on the field again and getting that fire,” Ching said. “You know it’s one of the big reasons I came back. If it didn’t come to me in the offseason I probably would’ve stayed away.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.