His love for soccer began in the streets dribbling the ball with his friends, and now the Houston Dynamo “Warrior” is finishing his spectacular soccer career the way it started… with a game between friends.
On December 13th, the city of Houston is bidding farewell to the player that has given more than a few share of memorable moments to soccer fans. A player who has been arguably one of the most instrumental pieces in making the Dynamo a championship team. A player who besides providing memorable moments on the field, has gained the love and respect of the community with his philanthropic work, his noble character, his smile and his humility.
It has been a 12 year long career for the Houston Dynamo’s number 25; 12 years of reaping success, surpassing goals, setting and breaking records. 12 years of leaving his heart, soul, sweat and himself on the playing field.
Brian Ching has been the face of the Dynamo franchise since its beginning in 2006, since then, he was become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, MLS Cup MVP in 2006, won the MLS Golden Boot in 2004, won three MLS Cups, two with the Dynamo (2006 and 2007) and one with San Jose Earthquakes (2003), won MLS Comeback Player of the year in 2004, among many other career accomplishments. Now his body is telling him enough. It is time to hang up the cleats.
“I always thought this was going to be my last season, but, the way things have gone, the way my body feels, and they way that I don’t think I am adding to the team like I used to, all those things kind of factor into saying that it was time to retire, and let it go,” Ching said in an exclusive interview with CBS Radio Houston. “It has been a frustrating year for me, I am not going to lie, mentally I can still do the things that I need to at this level, but physically I can’t. Coming to grips with that through the season wasn’t always easy for me. I can say I am happily ready to retire now, and looking forward to transiting into the front office.”
What are you going to miss the most?
Being around the guys, the lifestyle, coming in and training with your friends, for half a day and then having the rest of the day to hang out and doing what you are going to do. The travel. And the competition. I have always played this game to win, and I think I am going to miss those opportunities and those competitive moments.
What is next for you? Would you like to help with the National team?
No plans right now. If the opportunity presents itself I would love to help, but my focus is with the Dynamo, helping this organization stay one of the top and most successful teams in the league both on and off the field. I am really looking forward to that challenge, hopefully I will be able to bring value and keep our franchise successful.
How about taking over for Dominic Kinnear as head coach?
No. (Laughs) I always joke about this to Dom and he probably hates it the most… I like my hair and my low blood pressure and I want to keep both that way. At this point in time, I don’t really want to step up and be a head coach.
Any advice you can give to the kids that are starting in the sport, that are looking to you as inspiration?
The biggest message I can give is just the way that I think I have approached the game… You have to work hard. It is not easy, you have to make sacrifices, and the biggest thing is people think that professional athletes have it easy, but they don’t, they have worked hard to get there.
You have quickly become one of the most beloved athletes in Houston, why do you think that is? What is it that attracts people to you?
For me part of it is growing up with a dad who was a beach boy, part of him enjoys people, being around people, and I feel I am the same way. I think people see that as genuine from me. That immediately gets me off the right foot with most people.
And, I think I have worked, I have always overachieved in once sense because of the effort I put in and the way I approach things, I don’t like to lose at anything, and I think people pick up on that. I am not a guy that is going to make excuses; I am just going to put my head down and keeping working hard, kind of in a selfless way.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
Just thank you for everything you guys have given me, obviously wouldn’t have been possible for me to achieve a lot of things without people behind me. Texian Army, El Batallon, Walker End… they have been fantastic for me over my career, and supported me both on and off the field. I am going to miss giving them memories because for me, my greatest joy out of playing was scoring a goal and seeing their expression and their excitement. I am not going anywhere obviously; hopefully we can give them different memories and different excitements moving forward in my new role.
You are going to have the first testimonial game in MLS History, what does that mean to you?
It is pretty neat to think about it; obviously we have a number of team captains coming in from around the league, a number of guys that have been U.S. captains. You know it is funny because I think of these guys as all friends and not of them in soccer terms, but, when I do sit down and think about the type of guys that are going in is pretty special to know that these guys are willing to come in town and kind off send you off in the right way.
I still feel privileged and honored to even have the organization consider such a sendoff for me, for it to be the first of its kind for an American player, it is a huge honor. I look at it kind ending the game the way I started it, playing in the streets with my friends, playing in my home stadium. My last game with friends.
Do you have any regrets?
I think I approached every game, and every competition, and every practice with giving 110 percent and I think I have done that every time I am on the field. I can’t regret anything that I have done. I think I have been blessed to have a great career, great team, great coaches, great organization and I wouldn’t change a thing.
And we are glad he wouldn’t, because it has been a spectacular career!