By ADAM SERRANO
CARSON,Calif.–The Houston Dynamo may be without their MVP candidate, but the Los Angeles Galaxy are keenly aware that the Dynamo will still have another key weapon in their attack.
Dynamo captain Brian Ching has enjoyed a stellar season since battling back from injuries that limited him to just 20 regular season games. The veteran forward provided five goals this season and has continued to produce during the playoffs, tallying a goal and an assist.
Although Ching and the Dynamo will be without their midfield stalwart Brad Davis, the Galaxy are wary of Ching's contributions to the Houston offense.
"Brian is the heart and soul of that team," said Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, who was Ching's teammate with San Jose."I don't care what he says, I don't think that he's lost a step in terms of getting the box and getting on the end of service. That's what they're good at is getting on the end of service and we've got to watch out for that. "
Where the veteran is particularly effective is on set pieces where Ching leads Houston's contingent of towering targets. The 6-foot-1 Ching is joined by 6-foot-3 Geoff Cameron, 6-foot-2 Carlo Costly and 6-foot-2 Bobby Boswell, who make an imposing threat for Los Angeles' slightly smaller backline. During the 2011 season, the Dynamo scored 22 goals from set pieces due to clutch service and clinical finishing. Houston's task to score on set pieces may be a bit more difficult without Davis' cultured left foot, but with the right footed Adam Moffat providing the service, the Dynamo remains a threat.
The play of Davis and the rest of Houston's offensive have revitalized the 33-year-old forward after Ching suffered a heartbreaking 2010 that the Dynamo miss the playoffs and Ching miss out on the World Cup. However, this season, Ching has battled back from injuries to once again show signs of the Ching of old.
"He's just consistent, you always know what you're getting and if you give him a chance, then he's going to bury it," said Ching's former teammate, Landon Donovan. "He's more talented than people ever give him credit for. He sees the game like elite players see the game and he's had a great year."
On Sunday, Ching will take the field at the Home Depot Center as the Dynamo's leader and the only member of the club to have played in an MLS Cup Final before. Only Ching will understand how badly the veteran will be fighting to earn Houston another MLS Cup, but Donovan, his former teammate for club and country believes that he understands what will be going through Ching's mind come game time.
"He's a competitor, when we used to play cards on the road and he'd lose, he'd get pissed," said Donovan. "Anything that he does, he wants to compete and win and that really comes out on the field."