Does anyone remember Montreal Impact forward Brian Ching?

It appears the Montreal Impact are trying to sell seats to their second game in Stade Saputo by making it all about Brian Ching.  The question is, for Houston Dynamo fans, do you even remember the ordeal with Montreal or is it a thing of the past?  Very little attention (at least from Houston) has been given to the first meeting of these two teams since the offseason drama involving out captain took place.

Houston fans were three days removed from the agony of watching David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and the LA Galaxy lift the MLS Cup in the Home Depot Center when the 2011 Expansion Draft took place.  The wounds of the loss had no time to heal, but who would have expected the new head coach of Montreal, former player and USMNT assistant coach Jesse Marsch would create one of the biggest shocks in MLS history.  With the first pick in the Expansion Draft, Marsch selected 33 year old, $450,000 making, Houston Dynamo captain and face of the franchise Brian Ching.  The orange world Dynamo fans live in quickly began to crumble. Confusion, disbelief, anger, and sadness were all emotions felt in Houston on that day and the months to come.

To make matters worse for Ching, he mentioned in the days prior to the draft that if he was selected he would prefer retirement than to put on any other jersey than that of the Dynamo.  Comments like that made it even more difficult to take the loss of Ching, because it's not that often in this day and age where an athlete voices his devotion to a club, let alone threaten retirement from the game he loves if forced to put on another team's colors.  Brian Ching is loved by Houston and Houston loves Brian Ching.

Partly contributing to Ching's reasoning for not wanting to play in Montreal most certainly had to do with the coach himself.  Marsch and Ching don't exactly have the best relationship, something both have admitted.  Marsch has made some comments in the past as a player about Ching being one of MLS' diving problems, even putting him in the same sentence as Carlos Ruiz.  Then there's the 2010 World Cup snub.  While Bob Bradley was the USMNT coach and made the final decision, Marsch was an assistant coach and surely his opinion was of influence when it came to final cuts.  Ching was one of those final cuts and saw his last opportunity to play for his country taken away, even after he helped them get there with his quality play in qualifiers.

While Ching was in Montreal, he was constantly bombarded by media with questions about whether he would rather be in Houston.  Ching wears his heart on his sleeve and you could see the disappointment, sadness, and confusion about why he was wearing a blue jersey every time he was on camera.  Rumors about Marsch offering Ching back to Houston immediately starting popping up, but the demands were out of the question.  Many say Marsch wanted the Dynamo to trade Quebec native Andre Hainault for Ching.  Regardless of Ching's status as the face of the Dynamo, sending Hainault to Montreal in this would not have made sense at all.

Brian Ching plays in a scrimmage against the Houston Dynamo
Photo: Getty Images

That trade never happened, but the Dynamo front office never stopped trying.  The preseason went on as planned and Houston fans were subjected to watching their captain wear the Impact blue and play in scrimmages, including one against the Houston Dynamo.  But after about a month in the Impact preseason, rumors surfaced again the Dynamo were in talks to renegotiate Ching's contract and were working on a trade to bring him home.  Marsch confirmed the absence of Ching at Impact camp and said he was taking care of some personal business and is excused from the team for some time off.

On February 16, 2012 Brian Ching returned home, as Houston completed a trade with Montreal by sending them a conditional draft pick in the 2013 Superdraft.  Houston fans couldn't have been happier and Ching shared the same feeling.  We all know it could be Ching's last season and it just would not have been right had it not too place in Dynamo orange.  Ching was able to open BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12th and walked out to a roaring ovation as fans had their first opportunity to officially welcome him back home.

Tomorrow the Dynamo will visit Montreal and you have to wonder what Ching will be feeling as he takes the field against his "former" team.  Regardless of how long he spent there, you have to imagine he will be a bit emotional upon his return to Montreal.  He rested for most of the game against Toronto so I wouldn't be surprised to see Ching get the start against the Impact.  The emotions around the way he was snatched up unexpectedly and how Marsch appeared to use him as a pawn may just fuel him to find the back of the net and lead Houston to a win.

Brian Ching may only have one goal this year, but he has qualities that stats cannot measure.  He's the captain of the Houston Dynamo and we are better when he is on the field.  He has gotten himself in some great positions this year but hasn't been able to convert on a number of chances.  Ching has been involved in several of Houston's goals this year, and his movement off the ball consistently opens up opportunities for Will Bruin.  While his stats don't jump at you, he's instrumental to the success of the Houston Dynamo in 2012.

As the first game against Montreal approaches, I wondered how many people remember former Montreal Impact forward Brian Ching.  I know I do and I'm sure it won't be a distant memory in Ching's mind either.  I'm sure Jesse Marsch remembers him well too.  Let's hope Ching gets on the board and shows Marsch and the Montreal Impact exactly what they are missing north of the border.

Toujours d'Orange!

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