By ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — For months, people have awaited Brian Ching's first match against the Houston Dynamo.
After being left unprotected by Houston in the expansion draft, Ching threatened retirement before eventually being selected by the Montreal Impact. The fallout set the stage for potential tension in Ching's first match against his former club.
Instead of cause a fuss, Ching maintained his professionalism as he started for the Impact on Tuesday, going 45 minutes as the expansion side fell 2-0 to the Dynamo at the Home Depot Center. After his first match against his old club, Ching could not help but admit feeling at peace with with being a member of the Impact.
"It’s definitely growing on me," Ching said. "Obviously, it was a very emotional time for me when it all happened, but like I said, I’ve been with the team for about a month now and I enjoy playing with the guys and I enjoy the project of trying to build a competitive team here. It’s still a work in progress."
Since joining Montreal in late January, Ching has quickly taken a leadership role on a young Impact side that is still developing ahead of its first MLS season. After spending nearly a month with his new club, Ching feels that the hard feelings have finally subsided.
"No, [the game against the Dynamo] was not emotional," said Ching. "In terms of me being emotional, I’ve had a long time to get over that and I’m over it and ready for us to play some more preseason games."
While the match seemed routine for Ching, the game was strange for Houston defender Bobby Boswell, who was Ching's teammate with the Dynamo for four years. Boswell and fellow central defender Geoff Cameron were tasked with defending Ching during the scrimmage.
Among the most fierecely competitive players in the league, the pair of defenders have remained close with their new adversary since Ching departed for Montreal in November. In his first match with his long-time teammate on the other side of the field, Boswell couldn't help but send his own personal message to Ching.
"I’ve obviously rather be playing with him, but today was the day that we were going against each other so we had to move on from there," said Boswell. "I told him before the game to 'make sure to wear shin guards,' and he said, 'Are you sure I don't need a helmet?'
"It’s not one of my proudest moments, but I think the month before I got traded to Houston [from D.C. United in 2007], I did headbutt him in a game, and he won’t tell you that he tried to break my ribs on a corner kick, but that’s just how it is."
As both players sorted out their feelings about the former Dynamo talisman's first match against his old team, one question still loomed over the match: Are discussions still on-going to bring Ching back to Houston?
After being candid about trade negotiations with the Impact after Ching was selected by Montreal, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear is doing his best to stay tight-lipped.
"I can’t talk about that," Kinnear said. "He’s Montreal’s player and anything that we do, we try to have respect for the other team and player. We have to keep that under wraps and that’s all that I can say. I think that at the beginning, we were a little bit liberal with what we were saying, and I think that was a bit rude so I apologize for that.
"I think it was too easily talked about because of who he is, and now to be professional, we have to keep it as quiet as possible."