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Top of His Game

Island son and soccer star Brian Ching shoots for his next big goal. 

Local boy Brian Ching kicks back.

Brian Ching is right where he wants to be. But that wasn’t the case a while back, when an expansion draft almost sent the all-time leading scorer of the Houston Dynamo packing for frosty Montreal. As fortune would have it, the 34-year-old Kamehameha grad was traded back just before the season began, returning him to the team to which he’s given his heart and soul since 2006. After more than 10 years as a pro, this local boy is now ready for life after soccer.

That whole Montreal deal was strange, wasn’t it?
It was a whole saga. I’m just happy to be back in Houston. … When I got traded back, the reception I got was pretty special.

How did a kid from Hale‘iwa get so into soccer?
Honestly, my mom was like, ‘If you want to go to college, you gotta get a scholarship.’ I was good at soccer and I enjoyed playing it, but [going to college] was my goal. I thought I was going to be an accountant. I went to [Gonzaga University] and played soccer on the side. I didn’t even know about professional soccer, to be honest.

Accounting?! That was your dream career?
(Laughs) No, my dream was to be a professional surfer. But that didn’t turn out.

Is there surf in Texas?
You can surf here, but you gotta wait for a hurricane. I seem to be out of town every time one comes around!

You’ve done a lot in your 11-year professional career. You were the first Native Hawaiian to ever be drafted by Major League Soccer and to play for the U.S. National Team. You’re the team’s leading scorer. And you even had your own sports segment, Kickin’ It With Brian Ching, on a local TV station. What’s been your biggest accomplishment?
I never really thought about it. The whole time, I’ve just enjoyed what I was doing. … One standout moment was scoring the goal that tied the game in the championship for Houston in ’06.

You’ve said you want to retire in Houston. Are you thinking about hanging up your cleats soon?
I’m 90 percent sure this will be my last season. I’ve had injuries, and it’s getting harder and harder to run around with 18- and 20-year-olds. I think I’ll work for the team when I’m done.

Knowing what you know now about a career in soccer, would you still have chosen surfing?
If you told me that I would be the next Kelly Slater, yeah. (Laughs) But barring that, no. I’d stick with soccer!