Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Ching testimonial should be the first of many
by Ridge Mahoney, September 25th, 2013 12:22AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  houston dynamo, mls

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

Well, it’s about time.

Nearly 18 years after it kicked off its first season, MLS will stage its first testimonial match Dec. 13 when the Dynamo honors stalwart forward Brian Ching. He confirmed his plan to retire at the end of the 2013 season and disclosed his intent to commemorate it with an actual soccer game.

Teammates and foes, past and present, will gather at BBVA Compass Stadium to tell stories, exchange insults, and kick around the ball in homage to Ching, a pioneer – the league’s first Hawaiian-born representative -- who overcame fearsome facial injuries to play more than a dozen pro seasons, win a few titles and represent his country 45 times.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many such occasions. It’s a bit strange as to why such a match hasn’t yet been staged in the past by an MLS team, since in nearly two decades of play there’s been no shortage of players who have inscribed their abilities and accomplishments into the record books, and captivated fans by their exploits and skills.

I can think of dozens of players who deserved to be so honored, yet all those speeches and ceremonies and the occasional old-timers game staged never converged into one of the game’s best traditions. As the custom goes, in addition to gifts and accolades, proceeds from the game are given to the player to provide a financial foundation for the next phase of life.

Not every player merits a testimonial and there aren’t many staged nowadays. There’s always the chance of injuries, and for many teams the calendar is already overcrowded. Many top-flight professionals bank plenty of money during their careers, though some have donated proceeds from games played in their honor to charities and other worthy causes. Occasionally, teams have staged testimonials for ex-players whose money and luck have run out, or those struck down by illness or misfortune during their playing days.

The Ching testimonial will raise funds for his charity work. The House That Ching Built -- which is sometimes used in reference to BBVA Compass Stadium --is actually the name of his charitable organization. In conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, it generates funds, materials and services to build new homes for Houston families.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to partner with Houston Habitat,” said Ching at the official announcement of his retirement on Tuesday. “It’s been fantastic to see how much this project has changed the lives of the first two families that benefited from The House That Ching Built. As I celebrate the end of my playing career, I once again have an opportunity to make a positive impact on a third family.”

Recently, D.C. United honored one of its greats, Jaime Moreno, in a ceremony inducting him into its Hall of Tradition. A fine occasion it was, yet in another era, he’d have pulled on the black jersey one last time to thread some passes and fire off a few shots alongside Jeff Agoos, Marco Etcheverry, John Harkes, Eddie Pope, Tony Sanneh, Richie Williams, etc. Maybe there’d be a Jesse Marsch sighting. The Barra Brava would certainly use the occasion to get pumped up, especially considering how dismal has been the regular season.

If any player deserves a testimonial, it’s Brian Ching. His stats are good – he is 11th on the all-time MLS scoring list with 82 goals – yet his spirit and courage are great. Big, strong, fearless forwards are fair game for brutal marking and rugged abuse. Ching, 35, can at least retire on his own terms, unlike many of his colleagues, such as Kyle Martino and Taylor Twellman, whose careers were cut short by their injuries.

Ching has suffered a torn meniscus in both knees, toughed out at least one broken rib, ruptured an Achilles tendon, tore a hamstring, been concussed. Twice his face has been shattered in collisions; once during his collegiate career at Gonzaga (requiring four plates and 12 screws to repair) and then again while on loan from the Galaxy in the A-League. He was playing for a minor-league team called the Seattle Sounders at the time.

Yes, he goes back a ways in the annals of U.S. professional soccer history. Playing for the Galaxy in a friendly against Chivas Guadalajara – not the Americanized version – he once steered home a cross from Paul Caligiuri. How more American can you get?

Kasey Keller’s retirement game near the end of the 2011 season was a real game as well as an unforgettable occasion, and a crowd of 64,140 came to see him accept gifts and speak for about 90 seconds as well as help the Sounders beat the Quakes, 2-1. He brought his A-game to his own party, and without his fingertip saves and sliding blocks, San Jose would have spoiled the evening in a competitive sense.

A testimonial might not suit every deserving player. Maybe asking a 40-plus keeper to put on the pads and fight off fizzing shots and bounce off artificial turf in his testimonial is the wrong thing to do. (Of course, he could also pull rank, hand the gloves and pads to somebody else, and lurk up front in an offside position to slam home the crosses certain to come his way.)

But a December kickaround with Brian Ching for a worthy cause is definitely the right thing to do, and here’s hoping it’s a tradition that quickly takes root in MLS.


6 comments
  1. Glenn Maddock
    commented on: September 25, 2013 at 6:34 p.m.
    I don't think these matches are needed anymore. The players don't need the money, and a nice ceremony at the last home game or playoff game is fine. maybe a 30 minute 7v7, small field match would be fun to watch with a ceremony after. Also MLS should set up a fund to help former players down on their luck, that charity events could help fund

  1. Kerry Solomon
    commented on: September 25, 2013 at 7:19 p.m.
    Glenn may be right but these players need to be recognized. Ceremony, yes...small scaled down matches, absolutely not. His accomplishments have been many and his praise should not be downplayed to a child's game. Not at all classy. Thank you Brian for all the great moments especially on the USMNT. i really enjoyed watching you.

  1. James Madison
    commented on: September 25, 2013 at 11:03 p.m.
    The testimonial match couldn't be a better setting for a more deserving player. Ching is unquestionably the player with the most "heart" on and off the field that I have seen in the MLS, and I have been a fan since the beginning.

  1. The Real Zer0 Cool
    commented on: September 26, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.
    I have never seen so much digital ink wasted on a premise that is completely wrong. Brian Ching's testimonial is not the first in MLS. Marco Etcheverry's was back in 2007. http://mattmathai.smugmug.com/DC-United-Miscellaneous/DC-United-Events/Etcheverry-Testimonial-Match/8977533_ZHVvw6 Feel a little stupid now for just accepting a press release without fact checking it?

  1. Eric Piazzoni
    commented on: September 26, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.
    While not called a testimonial, LA did have a 'tribute' match of source for Cienfuegos.

  1. Andres Yturralde
    commented on: September 29, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
    Good take, Ridge. I always did like Brian Ching--there was something unique about him. Maybe because I had never seen a Hawaiian play pro ball before. Or maybe because of the things he was able to do on the field, despite his height and strength. Whatever the case... thanks, Brian!


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Losing skid reveals Rapids' flaws    
Injuries, sophomore slumps and a rookie head coach will be the primary causes cited if the ...
Soccer America Q&A: Falcons' Jim Smith on MLS Atlanta    
Former Columbus Crew president/general manager Jim Smith is playing a major role in the launch of ...
Changes under Cassar are taking hold for Real Salt Lake    
Real Salt Lake prides itself on continuity, yet for the past two seasons it has flourished ...
Three takeaways from Czech Republic-USA    
Alejandro Bedoya's goal and Nick Rimando's saves enabled the USA to kick off its post-2014 World ...
USA-Czech Republic Player Ratings    
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's experimental squad -- he fielded only two 2014 World Cup regulars (Fabian Johnson ...
Toronto FC upheaval is all too familiar    
It's official: Toronto FC has overtaken Chivas USA as the most dysfunctional team in MLS.
FIFA's Putin problem    
How is it that the latest issue of GQ ranks FIFA president Sepp Blatter as No. ...
Twellman tops in study of six-year cycles    
Edson Buddle is the eighth player to hit the century mark in MLS goals, but how ...
Jones ratchets up prospects for the Revs    
How radically does the acquisition of Jermaine Jones alter dynamics in the Eastern Conference? Quite a ...
Women's star power drives turf fight    
It's a tribute to the star power of the U.S. women's national team that its fight ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives