The 2012 MLS Cup final was not Brian Ching's final game as a player after all. Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter
The veteran striker will return to the Houston Dynamo for the 2013 MLS season after contemplating retirement, according to the league's official website.
"I needed to step away for a bit and make sure that I still love [playing] and have a passion for it," Ching told MLSSoccer.com. "Looking back and seeing how the season went and how I held up, I still feel like I can contribute."
The last year was an emotional one for Ching, who was part of a preseason saga that saw him get exposed by the Dynamo for the expansion draft and get chosen by the Montreal Impact despite threats of retirement if he was selected. The Dynamo wound up working out a trade to facilitate his return to Houston, and the 34-year-old Dynamo original was able to partake in the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium.
Ching was relegated to the role of reserve for the majority of the season, starting in just 13 of 30 appearances, and he figures to have a reserve role again considering the emergence of forward Will Bruin and recent acquisition of Jamaican international striker Omar Cummings. Even in a reserve capacity, Ching tied his single-season-high for assists in 2012 with five, and he chipped in with five goals while remaining healthy throughout the campaign.
"I think the fact that I didn't get injured at all last season was it," Ching said. "I didn't have to miss any time. I feel like I can play this role for another season."
Ching, who has amassed 82 goals and 33 assists in 11 seasons and accrued 45 caps for the U.S. national team, did not rule out retiring during the season if he is unable to bring a positive impact to the Dynamo, which will be gunning for a third straight appearance in the MLS title game.
"I just really want to feel like I'm bringing value," Ching 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."
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