The Montreal Impact stunned Major League Soccer by selecting Dynamo captain Brian Ching in Wednesday's Expansion Draft, casting doubt on Ching's future.
A fixture in the Houston lineup since moving with the club from San Jose prior to the 2006 season, Ching is the club's all-time leading scorer and wore the captain's armband for head coach Dominic Kinnear over the last two seasons. Limited significantly by injuries in 2011 and due a significant salary in 2012, Ching was left unprotected by the Dynamo when lists were announced on Monday.
After rumors came out of Montreal on Tuesday that the Impact and head coach Jesse Marsch were considering selecting Ching, the Hawaiian native told the Houston Chronicle about the Dynamo:
"The franchise is my home. My identity is with this franchise. I don't see myself playing for any other franchise in MLS. My loyalties are here. If [the Impact] pick me, obviously I'm going to retire and work in the [Dynamo] front office. It would hurt me deeply, because I want to be a part of the new stadium. I've never been [with] a franchise that had its own stadium. I've been in the league for 11 years now, and I would like to be a part of a place that I could call home, I guess."
Ching informed Marsch of his wishes on Tuesday via Ching's agent, and the two talked on the telephone Wednesday morning, but the former Chicago Fire standout - who was also a member of the United States national team coaching staff when Ching was one of the last cuts for the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad - saw too much value to pass up.
"I had a conversation with Brian this morning just to let him know, because I respect who he is," Marsch said following Wednesday's announcement. "We’ll see where this goes. He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to be here. In all of these situations … as a club we felt like we were trying to do what was best in terms of personnel and value so we can put together the team that’s best next year."
Marsch added that other teams had contacted Montreal expressing interest in Ching, who has said that we would rather retire than play for a club other than the Dynamo or a coach other than Houston's Dominic Kinnear. Ching, who will turn 34 in May, was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
There is precedent for high-profile players being surprise Expansion Draft selections, most noticeably Jason Kreis in 2006. Toronto FC selected Kreis when he was left unprotected by Real Salt Lake, but RSL reacquired the forward immediately in exchange for allocation money.