MLS: Ching to return to Houston?

Brian Ching has played one game against Major League Soccer opposition for the Montreal Impact, and he might play no more.

The veteran forward and Houston Dynamo icon has left the MLS expansion club's camp at Home Depot Center for South Texas, where he's negotiating a new deal with his former club, the first step in an expected trade.

The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that Ching received permission from the Impact, which grabbed the former U.S. national-teamer in November's expansion draft, to work out an agreement with the Dynamo. He's due to make $450,000 this season and likely will accept a deal worth less than half of that to return to the club.

“We think there's light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of what a trade agreement or what a trade with Montreal would look like,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told The Chronicle. “Given the nature of those talks, we've been given permission to gauge those talks with Brian's agent about restructuring his contract to work him in under the salary cap.”

There has been no indication of what Montreal wants or would receive in a trade.

The Impact announced via Twitter earlier Monday that Ching had requested a few days away from the club's camp for “personal reasons.”

Ching, 33, who considered retiring after the Impact selected him in the expansion draft three days after the Dynamo's loss to the Galaxy in the MLS Cup final but, after much consideration and conversation, joined the club's preseason camp last month. He played against Houston in a match Wednesday at Home Depot Center, then said he was enjoying playing for Montreal.

“It's definitely growing on me,” he said. “Obviously, it was a very emotional time when it all happened. But I've been with the team for about a month now and enjoy playing with the guys, enjoy the project of trying to build a competitive team here.”

He played the first 45 minutes in the 2-0 loss to Houston but did not participate in the 0-0 tie Friday with Portland. Montreal has games Tuesday against the Galaxy and Chivas USA.

Ching, who was on the U.S. roster for the 2006 World Cup, started his MLS career with the Galaxy, joined the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003 and helped the franchise, after its move to Houston following the 2005 season, to back-to-back MLS Cup titles in 2006 and 2007. He's been the face of the Dynamo franchise and had planned to play one more season, with a stadium set to open in May, then retire to a job in the club's front office.

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