A side note on US-Ecuador Game: With one pass, Brian Ching might have gained more respect than he has in years of play, including previously earning a spot on the World Cup roster. I can't begin to count how many internet posts and American fans I hear from who thought Ching didn't belong on the national team roster. To my way of thinking, Ching is a terrific role player. Ching set up Landon Donovan's second goal, a breakaway, with a perfectly placed lead pass. Donovan talked up Ching's effort, after the game. Perhaps the most remarkable comment came from ESPN's Jeff Carlisle, who wrote "If Donovan is going to play forward, Ching should be the first option to partner him up top."
In truth, Ching's on a pretty good run. He scored the winning goal in the MLS Cup, also scored a game-winning bicycle kick in the regular season that earned him goal of the year honors. And he's come up big for Houston in the Champions Cup -- scoring against Pachuca not long after coming on as a second-half substitute. In some ways, we are seeing what happens when a supremely gifted athlete finally puts it all together. However, I think it's been there for a while -- largely unrecognized by the public. I think Bruce Arena didn't appreciate how much Ching could contribute, how well he could hold his own at the highest levels. In Nuremberg this past summer, I was in the front row, desperately screaming for Arena to sub in Ching, against Ghana. The U.S. might have done a lot better with Ching in the lineup. Today's game showed how much better Landon Donovan can be when he gets to play with Ching.