Top 10 Moments

In anticipation of Brian Ching’s retirement at the conclusion of the 2013 season, will count down the Top 10 Brian Ching Moments each week leading up to the Brian Ching Testimonial Match, presented by BBVA Compass. We are also posting those Top 10 moments here on

10. Brian Ching has a goal and an assist against Manchester United in the 2010 MLS All-Star Game in Houston

“I don’t think that people really expected that Houston, Texas would be a strong, powerful and successful MLS market. It’s turned out to be one of our best.”

These were the words of MLS commissioner Don Garber in 2009 as he announced that Houston would host the 2010 MLS All-Star Game. At the root of why MLS did take hold so quickly—2010 would be just the fourth season in the club’s existence—was an extraordinary cast of characters committed to winning and making Houston their home. The central figure from day one: Brian Ching.

So it was fitting that before a sellout crowd of 70,728 fans in Reliant Stadium—the second-largest crowd ever for an MLS All-Star Game—and against one of the world’s biggest clubs in Manchester United, Ching was there to take center stage.

After coming on as a halftime sub, Ching, wearing his familiar No. 25, set up in the box for an MLS free kick in the 63rd minute of the match. FC Dallas’ David Ferreira whipped in the kick from the left flank and Ching darted toward the near post. Beating United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to the cross, the Dynamo forward headed it into the back of the net for the All-Stars’ first goal.

“To score a goal against probably one of the best teams in the world is something I will always remember, especially doing it here in front of our home crowd,” Ching said following the match. “It was fantastic.”

As the match wound to a close, Ching again was involved in the fireworks, this time providing for an old friend. Finding himself open in the final third in the 90th minute, Ching chipped a pass to former Dynamo teammate Dwayne De Rosario, who latched onto it and slotted it home for MLS’ only other goal in a 5-2 win for Manchester United.

“It’s one of my favorite memories because soccer fans from all over Houston came out and were treated to a great show, 5-2 and seven goals,” Ching told recently. “It was kind of special in the sense that Houston fans got to see two of their own put them in the back of the net against one of the best teams in the world.”

There, with the bright lights and a home audience, Brian Ching punctuated the work that he and his teammates had put in since arriving in Texas only a few years prior. The Dynamo, MLS and soccer were firmly ingrained in the Bayou City, and Ching was at the heart of it all.

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9. Brian Ching scores the final Dynamo goal at Robertson Stadium

If you were to create the quintessential Dynamo goal, odds are it would be this: a Brad Davis set piece delivery—probably in the playoffs—headed home by Brian Ching. Two pillars of the club, doing what they do best when it really matters.

On November 3, 2011 against the Philadelphia Union, the Men in Orange provided that goal to close out the final Dynamo game at Robertson Stadium; poetically marking the end of one era in the club’s history and forging the way for the next. In the second leg of a conference semifinal matchup against the Union and already up 2-1 on aggregate, Ching rose above the Philly defense and headed Davis’ free kick to the far post to ensure Houston’s passage to the Eastern Conference final and to provide one last moment to cap their six-year stay on the University of Houston campus.

“For me to get a header off a Brad Davis free kick, it’s kind of what we were doing the entire time we were at Robertson,” Ching told “It was a pretty special night. The fans made it special.

“To score that game and kind of seal it for our team in that series and it being the last goal [at Robertson]—looking back on it, it’s an extremely special moment. Not only a special moment for me, but for the fans that came out to the first game in 2006 that were also there for that last game as well.”

While the franchise searched for a new, soccer-specific home since its arrival in Houston, Robertson was a continuation of a older era in MLS: playing in a larger football stadium, with gridiron lines from UH football games ever-present on the field late in the season.

The stadium itself was old, originally built in 1942, and UH demolished it to make way for a new stadium just a year after that final Dynamo game. But “The Rob” will always hold a special place in Dynamo lore for the moments produced there, beginning and ending with goals from Ching.

“Robertson is a part of our tradition. It’s where we established ourselves as one of the premier teams in the league, with one of the best home field advantages that the league has ever seen,” said Ching. “You can say what you want about the facilities, but we treated it as our home while we were there and we defended it like that.”

The Dynamo continued that tradition to their new home at BBVA Compass Stadium, stretching their home undefeated streak that started at Robertson to a record-breaking 36 games in 2013. While it’s not too far-fetched to call BBVA Compass Stadium “The House that Ching Built,” it’s because of the foundation he laid at Robertson. Though, in typical Brian Ching fashion, he’s quick to pass the praise to someone else.

“For us our home field advantage has always been about our fans, and our fans came to that stadium and brought an atmosphere. That’s what we fed off and that’s why we were so successful there.”

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8. Brian Ching returns to MLS with style

Less than a minute into his first start with the San Jose Earthquakes on April 12, 2003, Brian Ching let MLS know what was to come over the next eleven seasons—goals.

Eighty more goals, to be exact, making him the 11th highest goal scorer in league history. Of course, while this marked the beginning of the most remembered part of Ching’s career, it actually began in 2001 when he was drafted by the LA Galaxy in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft.

Ching did score a goal that year with LA, but only made eight appearances for the MLS side and was loaned out to the Seattle Sounders of the A-League (later USL-1). The Galaxy released Ching at the end of the year, and Seattle signed him for the 2002 season.

“It was a really rough year at first with LA, but it was a year I learned a lot about my confidence and a lot about what putting in hard work will do,” Ching told about the experience. “I didn’t start off the year well with LA, but I put my head down and worked hard, and by the end of the year I was confident and playing well.”

That confidence and hard work transferred to his year out of MLS, where he scored 16 times for the Sounders en route to being named to the A-League All-League team. There, Ching caught the eyes of San Jose Earthquakes coaches Frank Yallop and Dominic Kinnear when the Quakes and Sounders met for a U.S. Open Cup match.

The rest, they say, is history: San Jose selected Ching in the 2003 Supplemental Draft, and Ching delivered right from the start.

In the first minute of the 2003 season opener against the Colorado Rapids, Landon Donovan picked up a loose ball near midfield and dished it wide to Brian Mullan on the right flank. Mullan picked up his head and found Ching hanging on the shoulder of the last Colorado defender and hit a perfect ball to release Ching on goal. With his first touch, the Hawaiian placed a left-footed shot past Rapids ‘keeper Scott Garlick and began a legacy.

“For a striker to come back in the league with a new team and score a goal that quickly takes a lot of pressure off you,” Ching said. “You don’t have to worry about that first one and think when it’s going to come.

“To get it right away was a huge confidence to me and funnily enough a sign of things to come. That’s what I’ll remember most about that moment.”

For a forward who was regularly on the receiving end of great service, it’s no surprise that Ching is quick to honor those that set him up for success, including in that first game back.

“Those guys have been making it easy for me and that’s what it’s been about my entire career,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been successful, having guys around me like Brian Mullan, Landon [Donovan], Brad [Davis], Dwayne [De Rosario], Stuart [Holden] and a ton of other people that have given me the ball.”

Surely if you asked those players delivering the service, they would be just as grateful to have someone as great as Brian Ching at the end of their pass.

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7. Hat trick, bicycle kick and game-winner all in a day’s work for Brian Ching

Nobody sets out to score a hat trick. In fact, it hardly crosses anyone’s mind until a player is right on the edge of one: sitting on two goals and getting that chance for the third.

When Brian Ching netted his second hat trick in a Dynamo uniform on August 21, 2010 against the Chicago Fire, there was just one thing on his mind: win.

“It was one of those games where we score, they score, we score, they score,” said Ching. “I felt like I just didn’t want to lose that game.”

Ching opened the scoring that night in the 31st minute, pouncing on a dropped ball by Sean Johnson after the Fire goalkeeper collided with his own player on a Dynamo corner kick. It may have been one of the easier goals of his career, but the next two certainly were not.

Lovell Palmer and then-Fire striker Calen Carr traded goals in the first ten minutes of the second half before Ching went for the spectacular for his second goal of the night, just before the hour mark.

Again off a corner kick, Bobby Boswell made a run to the back post and had a volley attempt on the run that clanged off the underside of the crossbar.

“Bobby was unlucky not to finish it, but the ball bounces off the post and falls right to me,” said Ching. As the ball bounced off the turf and over his head, the Dynamo forward lined up and executed a bicycle kick past a stunned Chicago defense. “When you score a great goal like that, you want to win the game; you want it to be a good memory.”

Chicago stormed back with two goals to tie the match back up, but Ching wasn’t done yet. Five minutes away from dropping two points at home after leading 3-1, the Dynamo striker demonstrated that will to win once more off a Richard Mulrooney corner kick. Ching worked past defender C.J. Brown to get a free header from seven yards out and buried the game-winning goal into the far post to complete the hat trick.

“To get those three goals and to get them when we needed all three, it was great,” said Ching. “We came out of that tough game at home winning 4-3, and you remember something like that for a long time.”

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6. Brian Ching at the 2006 World Cup

Up to this point, each moment in our countdown of Brian Ching’s greatest moments has focused on his in-game contributions during his 12-year MLS career. This moment, though, doesn’t involve a highlight-reel goal or comeback victory. It’s the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Fritz-Walter-Stadion in Kaiserslautern, Germany, before the United States men’s national team faced Italy at the 2006 World Cup.

It’s a simple enough moment at first glance, but put yourself in those shoes. At the pinnacle of your sport, representing your country as the world watches. “I still feel it was one of the biggest achievements in my career, being on the field before the Italy game, listening to the national anthem and the fans in the stadium echoing,” said Ching.

Ching earned his first cap for the national team in 2003 and emerged as a key player 2004-05, playing in six World Cup qualifying matches. It was a rapid ascension for a player who had been out of the first division in 2002, and who didn’t even see himself as a professional soccer player as a kid.

“I was thinking that I’m just a small kid from Hawaii who wanted to be a surfer, and I’m standing at one of the biggest sporting events in the world,” he told “It was my proudest moment as a soccer player.”

Instead of riding waves for a living, Ching became the first Hawaiian-born player to represent the United States on the soccer field, a distinction that seems innocuous enough but that carries plenty of weight with Ching.

“I notice it a lot when I go back to Hawaii and the kids look up to you. They see your accomplishments and they want to strive towards that because they know that it’s possible,” Ching said. “I think that goes a long with a lot of kids. I get the most out of inspiring hope for others.”

Ching didn’t see any playing time during that World Cup as the U.S. failed to advance out of the group stage, but took away the experience of a lifetime working alongside the likes of Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra and Jimmy Conrad (all of whom will participate Ching’s testimonial match) on the world’s biggest stage.

The Dynamo forward continued a run of good performances with the USMNT following the 2006 World Cup, participating in the 2007 and 2009 Gold Cups and becoming a regular during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, but was one of the final cuts to the squad for South Africa.

Regardless, the memory of standing tall with your teammates as the national anthem plays and hundreds of supporters sing along on one of the world’s biggest stages is one that cannot be replaced or forgotten.

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5. Brian Ching’s Goal of the Year bicycle kick secures a playoff spot

Because of his size and knack for scoring headed goals, Brian Ching is sometimes painted as a brute force, a target striker who found success by being more physical and outworking his opponents.

It’s not a wholly incorrect assumption, as Ching would battle his way with the best of them, but the finer aspects of his game sometimes get overlooked because of this. He was an excellent passing forward and, as he showed against D.C. United on Sept. 30, 2006, wasn’t afraid of going for the spectacular finish.

Knotted in a scoreless tie in the 86th minute with eventual Supporters’ Shield winners D.C. United, Brad Davis whipped in an early cross to the edge of the penalty area. Dynamo forward Paul Dalglish got his head on it to flick it on, but the ball ended up going higher than it did far.

Ching, unmarked at the penalty spot and his momentum going away from goal, did what anybody would do: turn your back on the goalkeeper, line up the falling ball and will your feet over your head to slot a perfect bicycle kick in the bottom corner for the game-winning goal.

“At the time you don’t really think about [whether it will go in], you just want to connect with it pretty solidly,” said Ching. “It’s just one of those things, I hit it and it went right in the net. It was a big goal for us and one that I’m pretty proud of.”

Big, because that goal and the resulting victory secured the Dynamo’s spot in the 2006 MLS Cup Playoffs, where even more memorable moments were waiting. Not to mention that the goal was memorialized at the end of the season as MLS’ Goal of the Year.

“It was one of those things where I still look back and just kind of go ‘wow’,” said the native Hawaiian. “I used to practice it on the sand as a little kid, but you never think you’re actually going to get it on the turf to score in a game.”

It seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime shot, but four years later, Ching would double his bicycle kick total as part of a hat trick against the Chicago Fire.

It looks as if those hours on the Hawaiian beaches throwing his body around on the sand paid off in the long run.

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4. Brian Ching’s assist and brace powers playoff comeback against FC Dallas

During the 2007 regular season, the Dynamo squared off against regional rivals FC Dallas a total of four times, winning three of those meetings and earning a scoreless draw in the other.

Yet, as the two met in the Western Conference Semifinals in a two-legged affair, it looked as if FC Dallas would reverse their regular season fortunes in the Texas Derby. In the first leg at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, FC Dallas defender Clarence Goodson pounced on a long throw into the box to score in the 23rd minute, a lead that the Dynamo’s northern neighbors held on to for an opening win.

As the series moved to Houston, the Dynamo found themselves in an even deeper hole just 14 minutes into the match as Carlos Ruiz finished a direct FC Dallas attack to go up 2-0 on aggregate.

But great teams and great players are remembered for what they do in the clutch, when the chips are stacked against them, and Brian Ching and the 2007 Dynamo proved that they were exactly that over the next 95 minutes.

“It never felt like we were out of it, no matter what the score was,” said Ching.

A little bit of luck doesn’t hurt, either, and the Dynamo got just that 47th minute. After a tumble out of bounds, Arturo Alvarez kneed Brad Davis in the groin and was shown a red card—one of twelve cards shown during the match—which brought FC Dallas down to 10 men.

Twenty minutes after the incident, the Dynamo found their first goal of the series. Ching, playing the provider this time, headed down a Ryan Cochrane ball into the box right into the path of Stuart Holden, who finished it with a half-volley strike from twelve yards out.
Less than five minutes later, Ching leveled the series and put the Dynamo on their way to a Western Conference Finals spot.

“We just kept pushing and pushing,” said Ching. “Dwayne [De Rosario] played me a good ball through and I just had to put it on frame. I think once we got that goal we kind of knew we were going to finish it off.”

With the series tied 2-2 on aggregate at the finish of regulation, the teams headed into 30 minutes of extra time to determine the victor. It would take just seven minutes for Ching to pop up in the right place at the right time to put Houston ahead.

“Brian Mullan hits a cross and Joe [Ngwenya] traps it and it just kind of falls right to me and it’s a pretty easy finish,” said Ching of the series-winning goal. Of Ching’s eight career playoff goals, six either tied or won the game or series.

“It was a huge effort by the guys to come back in that series. I think that team was a team that would never give up, always push for the winner and always believe in ourselves. I think those goals go to prove that, and then Brad [Davis] finished it off with a great free kick.”

Davis’ free kick goal in the 100th minute of the match put the game and the series away for good, and put the Dynamo on track for their second consecutive MLS Cup.

“It was a huge win,” reflected Ching. “And I think for our fans, the fact that it was Dallas made it that much better.”

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3. Brian Ching scores his first international goal

Brian Ching’s emergence with the U.S. men’s national team came as a bit of a surprise in 2003, as he had only just returned to MLS after a year with the Seattle Sounders in the A-League. His first camp invite was innocuous enough, and Ching wasn’t sure if the invitation was a long-term interest from then-head coach Bruce Arena.

“It was just one of those things, [the Earthquakes] had a bye that week and there just so happened to be a national team game in San Jose,” Ching said. “I just kind of looked at it like ‘hey, I’m playing well, our team’s on a bye and there happened to be a game.’ So it was just a lucky, opportune time.

“I went in and didn’t really put any pressure on myself because I thought ‘I’m here by chance.’”

That chance turned out to be the beginning of USMNT career that would span 45 appearances over eight years, starting May 26, 2003 against Wales at Spartan Stadium in San Jose. Ching came on as a 75th minute substitute for his first appearance and nearly scored on his first touch.

“I think I played well enough throughout the week of training to actually leave an impression and that helped me get more and more opportunities with the U.S. team,” said Ching.

That first goal would come a year later, in Ching’s third game donning the U.S. shirt. On August 18, 2004 Ching began on the bench in a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica at the National Stadium in Kingston.

He watched as Jamaica took a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute courtesy of an Ian Goodison header off a corner kick. Ching entered the game 12 minutes later in place of Brian McBride, and instantly looked to make an impact.

In the 63rd minute, Ching narrowly missed an open header from a cross from Greg Vanney wide. The game wore on and the U.S. looked like it was heading towards its first ever defeat against Jamaica.

But in the 89th minute, Landon Donovan collected a deflected cross from Cobi Jones in the box and slid it into the path of Ching, who ripped a shot from close range to tie the match at a goal apiece.

“On the goal, Cobi made a great cross and I heard Landon say ‘leave it,’ and the ball hit a defender and went straight to his feet and I think he surprised everyone by passing the ball and I just tried to put it on goal,” Ching told U.S. Soccer following the match.

Ever the competitor, the thing that Ching remembers first about the goal now was its impact on the team’s fortunes in a tight spot.

“I was able to make an impact and bring the team a point in a difficult place to play at the time,” he said recently. “It was my first goal with the U.S. team, and I think that’s going to be something that I remember.”

There would be 10 more goals for the red, white and blue after that, but for Ching, the first was always the best.

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2. Brian Ching leaves quite the first impression in Houston Dynamo opener

The existence of the Houston Dynamo has been relatively short, but a lack of longevity should not be confused for a lack of history. In fact, the first club legend was introduced to the city at the club’s first ever game on April 2, 2006.

The game was won 5-2 against the Colorado Rapids, but looking back those details seem incidental to the two biggest numbers from that day: 25 and four.

The former being the number of Brian Ching, the latter being the number of goals he scored to introduce himself.

“Opening day was special, I think in the fact that we didn’t know what to expect when we came here,” Ching told “The city of Houston came out and welcomed us with open arms and made us feel and loved right from the beginning.

“When we were walking out and the stadium was filling up, you saw everyone buying into the orange already and our supporters group being loud from the get-go really gave us a lot of energy.”

Ching opened the scoring in the 13th minute by sliding to get a toe on a Dwayne De Rosario through ball, catching just enough of it to redirect it past the goalkeeper. The celebration: kissing the team name on the front of his jersey, the beginning of a self-described “love affair” with the fans and the city.

The second came in the 37th minute on a Dynamo counter attack led by De Rosario, who played a ball wide to Brian Mullan on the right side. Mullan delivered a perfect cross to Ching’s head. The big Hawaiian followed the ball into the goal and into the back of the net.

He got the hat trick seven minutes after, just before halftime. Again coming from a Mullan cross on the right flank, Ching netted a powerful header that left Colorado with no chance.

Number four, which took the performance from great to transcendent, put the Dynamo up by two goals. He produced yet another blistering header, this time from a De Rosario corner kick.

“To get four goals, obviously it’s something I’d never done before and have never done after,” Ching said. “It was just one of those things where everything seemed to be going right, not only for me but for the team.”

You only get one chance at a first impression, and Ching made the absolute most of his. That game and performance was the seminal moment of Ching becoming the face of the franchise and of soccer in Houston.

“I think it’s pretty neat on a personal level to be remembered that way, to be remembered as a guy that helped kick off soccer again in Houston,” Ching said. “For me personally, I couldn’t have scripted it any better to start off with my love affair with the city.”

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1. Brian Ching delivers a championship in Dynamo’s inaugural season


At his retirement party on Thursday night, Brian Ching revealed that he wants his legacy as a soccer player to be as “the ultimate team player.” So it should not come as any surprise that his favorite moment came on the day of the most significant team accomplishment in the Dynamo’s history.

The Dynamo’s inaugural season began in perfect fashion with Ching’s four-goal performance, and it ended with a dream-like state at MLS Cup in Frisco, Texas in the early evening of November 12, 2006.

“We basisically took over [Pizza Hut Park] and made our own stadium,” Ching told “With the sky being orange, everything just seemed to be destined.”

The Dynamo were up against the New England Revolution, with the likes of Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey, Steve Ralston and Matt Reis looking for a title after finishing 2005 as runner-ups to the LA Galaxy. The match went back and forth during regulation, but the original 90 minutes ended scoreless, prompting 30 minutes of extra time.

The contest remained deadlocked through the first period of extra time, until Twellman broke through in the 113th minute firing a left-footed shot past Pat Onstad. The New England lead wouldn’t last for long, however.

“When they scored that goal, the wind kind of goes out of the sails for a second, but we had a team that was never going to give up,” said Ching. “We knew we still had an opportunity and we were fortunate enough that we capitalized on that opportunity a minute later.

“We get the ball wide [on the ensuing kick off], Brian Mullan beats a guy, his cross gets a little bit deflected, lands right to me in the box and I score it.”

Ching’s glancing header into the far corner knotted the match back up to send the final into a penalty kick shootout.

“That goal is the goal of my career, I think,” Ching said. “Just in the sense of the importance of it, what it brought to our organization.”

Into penalties, the match came down to the final round kickers. Ching buried his penalty, then watched as Onstad came up with “his biggest save in his career” to seal the victory.

“I just remember sprinting to jump on the pile and getting stuck at the bottom of the pile and not being able to breathe for little bit,” Ching recalled. “ But when you get up off that pile, you’re looking around: the sky’s orange, the stands are orange, people are throwing confetti and jumping up and down, guys are running over and celebrating with the fans. It’s just amazing.

“I still have images burned into my brain from that day and from that moment and hopefully they stay in there forever.”

His game-tying goal and winning penalty kick earned Ching the MLS Cup MVP award, but the true joy for the forward came upon receiving the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy, and what that victory would portend for the future of the franchise.

“It really started a tradition and set the precedent for our organization for what we expect every year,” he said. “I think it really established our organization as one of the top sports franchises in Houston and in the league.”