With the news coming yesterday afternoon from Jesus Ortiz on the Chronicle that Brian Ching will not retire and will report to Montreal Impact camp when it opens, the ant bed that is Dynamo fandom was again stirred with a stick. Reaction varied from renewed anger towards Jesse Marsch to clever theories about when Ching will have to have season ending surgery that sticks the Impact with his large salary for the season.
Let's attempt to be levelheaded about this situation, something that can be a bit difficult when it comes to a beloved player like Ching. When the Dynamo left Ching exposed in the expansion they took a calculated risk that the Impact would not be willing to add his nearly $450,000 salary to their limited cap space. Ching understood the move and considering he's a 33-year old forward with a history of injury, the move seemed logical...until Montreal picked Ching with the first pick of the expansion draft.
I sympathize with Dynamo fans and understand their generally angry reaction but with news that Ching plans to report to Impact camp, I think it's time for everyone to take a deep breath and move on. As much as we would all love to see our former captain leading the Dynamo out on the field for the opening match at BBVA Compass Stadium, that's probably not going to happen, but that doesn't mean it won't.
I see this situation playing out in one of two ways. Either Ching will report to camp and play out the 2012 season with Montreal before retiring at the close of the season or Montreal will increase their efforts to trade Ching to clear cap space. He's got a guaranteed contract so either Montreal is paying him or trading him, and I expect the only suitor for a deal would be Houston. If anything, by staying relatively quiet and waiting for this situation to play out, the Dynamo have moved themselves into a position of strength.
If Montreal wants to pay Ching, they will pay him and the Dynamo have a great deal more salary cap space than they would have otherwise had. If Montreal doesn't want to pay Ching, they're going to have to make a deal with Houston and they won't be getting the likes of Andre Hainault in return. Sure it hurts that Ching might not be with the Dynamo this season, but that's the nature of professional sports. Canetti & Co. are tasked with running a business, and not protecting Ching made sense. I doubt everyone will like that statement but if you peel off your orange colored goggles for a second, you'll realize that's the case.
This isn't the first time in sports the "face of a franchise" has left before the end of his career and it won't be the last. It's not always fun, it's not always easy, but that's how sports work and while making snarky comments about Montreal and Jesse Marsch (something I'm guilty of) are fun, there's not some nefarious plot at work here. The Impact took a calculated risk in either looking to add a high priced veteran than can help provide leadership on and off the field for an expansion side, or being able to trade Ching back to the Dynamo and essentially make a profit.
There's still plenty of time for this to play out, but for the time being, it's time to turn our attention to the draft and the transfer window as Kinnear looks to retool his roster ahead of the 2012 season. We may not like how the Ching story has played out, we may not like that the Dynamo exposed him in the draft, but they made the decision and they had their reasons. Just remember, in Dom we trust.
If Brian Ching returns to Houston this season we can all rejoice at the fact he will be a part of the inaugural season at the new stadium, but if he doesn't we still have great memories of his contributions to the team and the city. Ching knows the club respects him, he knows the fans love him and nothing about this situation is going to change any of that.
More importantly, there's a team to support and another run to the MLS Cup to make. If Ching is able to come back for the run, all the better as long as it makes financial sense for the Dynamo.