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Ching Helps Lead Young USA With Heart and Head
Fifa.com , July 21st, 2009 3PM

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In its last game, a quarterfinal against the rough-and-tumble Panamanians, the USA needed some grit and a calm old head. It got both in the form of 31-year-old striker Brian Ching. Though he did not score the crucial overtimetime winner - that distinction fell to young Kenny Cooper - the Hawaiian-born big man, always a threat in the air, threw himself around, did the dirty work and helped carve openings. "Those Panamanian backs were big and strong and they made me battle for everything I got all night long," Ching told FIFA.com after the USA's 2-1 win over Panama in Philadelphia that booked a semifinal date with Honduras. "I was fouled quite a bit and I could have played better, but we got the win and that's all that matters."

"A lot of the guys in the team are getting their first caps," said Ching, who has 10 goals in 40 international appearances. "But we've come together well and have gelled little-by-little with every game. For a young team, thrown together quickly, that's no easy job." Ching, who took the captain's armband against Panama after Jimmy Conrad's departure, has helped solidify a young team that finished first in its group by coming from behind to win its last two games. "Part of my job is to lead the youngsters by example on and off the field," the Houston Dynamo forward said. "I've been around long enough to know what the coaches want, and I can put a hand on some of the younger guys' shoulders and encourage them when they need it. I can also tell them when they can do things a little better."

Ching was a member of the U.S. team that reached the Gold Cup final last time out in 2007. That team boasted some of the biggest names in U.S. soccer, such as the now absent Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Oguchi Onyewu and Clint Dempsey. "Sure, it's a little weird to look around and see that same shirt but a totally different bunch of guys," he laughed, noting that he's the only returning player from that title-winning team of 2007. "But it's pretty cool too, to see this new generation coming through and bringing this new mentality, this eagerness and enthusiasm."

 

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