Top 10 Ching Moments: Brian Ching scores his first international goal

In anticipation of Brian Ching’s retirement at the conclusion of the 2013 season, will count down the Top 10 Brian Ching Moments each week leading up to the Brian Ching Testimonial Match, presented by BBVA Compass. No. 3: Ching gets his first international goal at a crucial time for the United States.

Brian Ching’s emergence with the U.S. men’s national team came as a bit of a surprise in 2003, as he had only just returned to MLS after a year with the Seattle Sounders in the A-League. His first camp invite was innocuous enough, and Ching wasn’t sure if the invitation was a long-term interest from then-head coach Bruce Arena.

“It was just one of those things, [the Earthquakes] had a bye that week and there just so happened to be a national team game in San Jose,” Ching said. “I just kind of looked at it like ‘hey, I’m playing well, our team’s on a bye and there happened to be a game.’ So it was just a lucky, opportune time.

“I went in and didn’t really put any pressure on myself because I thought ‘I’m here by chance.’”

That chance turned out to be the beginning of USMNT career that would span 45 appearances over eight years, starting May 26, 2003 against Wales at Spartan Stadium in San Jose. Ching came on as a 75th minute substitute for his first appearance and nearly scored on his first touch.

“I think I played well enough throughout the week of training to actually leave an impression and that helped me get more and more opportunities with the U.S. team,” said Ching.

That first goal would come a year later, in Ching’s third game donning the U.S. shirt. On August 18, 2004 Ching began on the bench in a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica at the National Stadium in Kingston.

He watched as Jamaica took a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute courtesy of an Ian Goodison header off a corner kick. Ching entered the game 12 minutes later in place of Brian McBride, and instantly looked to make an impact.

In the 63rd minute, Ching narrowly missed an open header from a cross from Greg Vanney wide. The game wore on and the U.S. looked like it was heading towards its first ever defeat against Jamaica.

But in the 89th minute, Landon Donovan collected a deflected cross from Cobi Jones in the box and slid it into the path of Ching, who ripped a shot from close range to tie the match at a goal apiece.

“On the goal, Cobi made a great cross and I heard Landon say ‘leave it,’ and the ball hit a defender and went straight to his feet and I think he surprised everyone by passing the ball and I just tried to put it on goal,” Ching told U.S. Soccer following the match.

Ever the competitor, the thing that Ching remembers first about the goal now was its impact on the team’s fortunes in a tight spot.

“I was able to make an impact and bring the team a point in a difficult place to play at the time,” he said recently. “It was my first goal with the U.S. team, and I think that’s going to be something that I remember.”

There would be 10 more goals for the red, white and blue after that, but for Ching, the first was always the best.