With their postseason hopes hanging by a thread, the Houston Dynamo turned to their captain, Brian Ching.
The veteran forward’s hat trick in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Chicago helped stem a 10-game winless skid and clinched Ching the MLS Player of the Week honors as voted by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 21.
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“Brian Ching was fantastic tonight; thank goodness for Brian Ching,” manager Dominic Kinnear said. “He has always been a quiet leader. He leads by example."
Though Ching’s opening goal in the 31st minute was a simple tap-in after the Chicago goalkeeper spilled the ball, his second was a work of art. In the 59th minute, Ching pounced on a loose ball in the box and used a spectacular bicycle kick in a crowded penalty area to put the Dynamo up 3-1.
Chicago battled back to equalize, only for Ching to save the day again with a patented header in the 85th minute that sealed an emotional 4-3 win and Houston’s first since May 22.
"His bicycle kick stands out, but the [team's] fourth goal was the most important,” Kinnear said. “And for me, that's the way he scores the majority of goals, so for him to do it with teams keying on him shows what a presence he is in the box for us.”
The hat trick doubled Ching’s goal-scoring output on the season to six. The Dynamo will continue to need Ching’s leadership if they wish to make a push for the postseason. Houston sits five points behind the eighth and final playoff berth occupied by the Colorado Rapids. The two teams face each other on Saturday.
The 32-year-old U.S. World Cup veteran now has five career Player of the Week honors, with the last one coming back in 2008. This week's honor marks the first time a Houston Dynamo player has received the award in 2010.
He last scored three or more goals in the first official match in Dynamo history on April 2, 2006. In that game Ching tallied four goals in a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rapids.
2010 MLS Player of the Week Winners
Week 1: Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)
Week 2: Kenny Mansally (New England Revolution)
Week 3: Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union)
Week 4: Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy)
Week 5: Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC)
Week 6: Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy)
Week 7: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Week 8: Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)
Week 9: Emilio Renteria (Columbus Crew)
Week 10: Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC)
Week 11: Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
Week 12: Chris Pontius (D.C. United)
Week 13: Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls)
Week 14: Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake)
Week 15: Justin Braun (Chivas USA)
Week 16: Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union)
Week 17: Steve Zakuani (Seattle Sounders)
Week 18: Juan Pablo Ángel (New York Red Bulls)
Week 19: Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas)
Week 20: Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)
Week 21: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo)