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The Agony and Ecstasy of Brian Ching

It’s always a drag when work gets in the way of your retirement dreams.  On Wednesday as millions of us were travelling to Thanksgiving dinner, the Montreal Impact selected ten players left unprotected by their fellow MLS clubs and, for the most part, their picks were quality and unremarkable.  However, their first pick has sparked a little of an MLS firestorm.

The Impact used their first pick of the expansion draft on Dynamo captain Brian Ching, a former U.S. national team player who had expressed a desire to retire in the burnt orange.  Despite the fact they left him unprotected, Houston reacted with offense and shock at one of their big-name players being selected and began a media campaign aimed at getting him back.  Ching, for his part, has expressed his unhappiness with the situation and his disdain at playing for Montreal.  All of this soap opera-esque drama needs a quick Q&A to walk MLS fans through the situation, which has yet to be resolved.  Here is a rundown of the situation (Chinggate 2011?) as it stands:

Why did the Impact use its first pick on Ching?

On the surface, this was a very strange pick by Montreal.  Brian Ching still has a few more miles left in his tank, and is one of the more well-known players in MLS, but he has not been a truly impact player for a few years plus is now injury-prone.  In the MLS Cup he was a nonfactor.  So why choose him?  Simple: Montreal and Jesse Marsch knew that Ching did not want to play for them and could extract some value from the pick.  According to The Sporting News, that value would have to be a player or draft picks (since Houston allegedly does not have allocation money) and Montreal is shooting for the stars: Andre Hainault for Brian Ching straight up.  While that is not the deal that will ultimately be done, I suspect Montreal may end up with some good value here.

But there may be a larger, more nefarious strategy in play here.  Jeremiah Oshan notes that the Montreal picks in the expansion draft seem rather vindictive (my phrase).  The Ching selection is one of a couple that seem aimed at tweaking other clubs and taking valuable either home-town or much loved players.  Interesting hypothesis, and one that would really help the Impact begin with a “bad boy” reputation.

Why doesn’t Brian Ching want to play for Montreal?

Ching has seemingly settled on finishing his career in Houston, although the unprotected status and selection by Montreal may complicate that.  You can’t blame a player for wanting to finish his career with a franchise where he’s found success and a bit of fame.  But as Ben Chew notes, the reason may be deeper than that.  Impact manager Jesse Marsch was an assistant coach to Bob Bradley during the 2010 World Cup cycle when Ching was one of the last cuts made before South Africa.  So there may be some personal animosity there that when Ching made it clear that he would not play for Montreal if selected, Marsch may have added to that bad history by selecting him.

Who is at fault here and how will it end?

As I mentioned above, Montreal will ultimately be the winner here as they will extract from Houston a quality player and draft pick in all likelihood for Ching and possibly allocation.  That said, the “blame” for this controversy can be spread far and wide.  Houston took a gamble on leaving Ching unprotected and should not be surprised that Montreal took him in the draft, as they have a right to do.  Ching is slightly to blame, as he should have been less emphatic that he would never play for Montreal, making his selection a good target for a larger trade.  And if Marsch is playing the “evil genius” game, while he technically did nothing wrong, he certainly is at fault for trying to push a bad-boy image.  Overall, though, Houston certainly has to look in the mirror and accept that they gambled and lost with this situation.

8 Responses to The Agony and Ecstasy of Brian Ching

  1. Rashaad says:

    The Ching selection is one of a couple that seem aimed at tweaking
    other clubs and taking valuable either home-town or much loved
    players. Interesting hypothesis, and one that would really help the
    Impact begin with a “bad boy” reputation. Maybe, it’s me, but
    should the Impact be worried about hurting the feelings of other
    clubs and their fans? They shouldn’t be in the business of pleasing
    others clubs. Whether the players they chose in the expansions
    draft will help them can be defeated, but if Jeremiah Oshan thinks
    they should be be worrying about the feelings of rival clubs, he’s
    out of his mind (Someone also needs to remind him if a club leaves
    a player exposed in the expansion draft, that club shouldn’t be
    shocked or cry if the player is selected).

    • Jeremy says:

      “They shouldn’t be in the business of pleasing others clubs.
      Whether the players they chose in the expansions draft will help
      them can be defeated, but if Jeremiah Oshan thinks they should be
      be worrying about the feelings of rival clubs, he’s out of his
      mind” As long as they remember that when it comes time to make
      trades. It is a very small fraternity. Making enemies this early on
      cannot bode well for future deals. It also sends a message to
      future free agents that says the club has no respect for players or
      other clubs The Dynamo have class. They left DeRosario and Jaqua
      unprotected so each could return home when expansion happened. The
      Dynamo have executed several trades with these two clubs since and
      every player through the system has nothing but great things to say
      about the club. Basically its just bad business that will most
      likely bite them in the rear down the road.

  2. John says:

    What happens if Ching just does not show up in Montreal?

  3. donjuego says:

    What do you base the claim that Houston began a media claim to get
    Ching back? Your post assumes that Houston’s protected list is not
    an accurate representation of how they value their players. What do
    you have to base that on? It looks like your making stuff up out of
    thin air. Fact is, Houston has $400k of valuable freed up salary
    cap that Houston was previsouly obligated to. Houston in saddened
    that Marsch be a total jerk and pick someone to use “hostage” value
    rather than “soccer” value. Marsch may be shocked at how unwilling
    Houston is to give up anything of value to get Ching back. In fact,
    if Marsch wants to trade Ching to Houston he will likely have to
    throw in allocation money to bring Ching’s salary back in line with
    his soccer value. Thats right: Houston would take Ching and
    allocation money in exchange for nothing. Otherwise, Marsch will
    need to figure out what he is going to do with a disgruntled player
    who uses 1/6 of his cap space. Marsch is going to be as succesful
    in MLS as the last manager to do this — Mo Johnson.

  4. Earl Reed says:

    Ching should grow up and realize that his loyalty to Houston is a heckuva lot greater than their loyalty to him. If they were loyal, they would have done what Philadelphia did with Danny Califf and Faryd Mondragon: PROTECT HIM. There was an easy solution that Houston could have done. Instead they protected relatively replaceable guys like Calen Carr and Jermaine Taylor, and left this hallmark of their franchise to dangle like meat to the buzzards.

    Shame on Houston for playing games with Ching’s career. Montreal knew what they were getting into, but as far as classy guys to build a franchise around, you can’t find too many better than Brian Ching. The bottom line: Pick #1 and Pick #10 are equivalent in a 1-team Expansion Draft, so in reality they wasted one pick on Brian Ching if he never plays. Most teams waste at least 2 or 3. I don’t blame Montreal at all for taking a chance, and the one’s who deserve the heat are the ones who may not get to see “The Face Of their Franchise” ever play in their new stadium. Kudos, Houston.

  5. Dave says:

    The Dynamo don’t wear “burnt orange”. That’s the Texas Longhorns.
    The Dynamo just wear orange…

  6. Ritxard says:

    “What happens if Ching just does not show up in Montreal?” He
    doesn’t get paid to perform his game. What other answer is there?
    Well, he could come home to Hawaii. Maybe his mommy could give him
    a job as her assistant in the anti-organic vegetable lobby. :)

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