Ching told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday that he's spent the time since Houston's loss in the MLS Cup earlier this month deciding if he still wanted to play the game after 11 seasons in the league.
“I needed to step away for a bit and make sure that I still love it and have a passion for it,” Ching told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “Looking back and seeing how the season went and how I held up, I still feel like I can contribute.”
Ching appeared in a career-high 30 regular season games in 2012 but started just 13 of those, a sure sign that his role has changed as he approaches his 35th birthday in May. Midway through last season the striker transitioned to the role of super-sub and he brought a slick touch and deft passing while notching three goals and two assists in his new role.
And that limited playing time – the 1,385 minutes were his second fewest of any season since 2006 – helped keep him off the injury list for the first time in a long time.
“I think the fact that I didn’t get injured at all last season was it,” Ching said when asked about what drove his decision. “I didn’t have to miss any time. I feel like I can play this role for another season.”
Now that Ching is ready to lace his boots up for another season, the focus turns to what he'll contribute in 2013. According to Ching, that means production on the field in the way of assists and goals, and leadership in the locker room and on the training pitch.
“I just really want to feel like I’m bringing value,” he said. “I don’t want to be just holding on. I want to be someone who’s contributing, but if the point comes at any time next season where I don’t feel like I’m contributing or helping the team then I’ll step aside and retire. As long as I still feel I can help the team I’d like to do that.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.