Monday, November 28, 2011

Jesse Marsch Brings Audacity to Montreal

The dust of MLS Cup and the Expansion Draft has settled and there is still one topic currently making the rounds in MLS circles: the selection of Brian Ching by the Montreal Impact.

Jesse Marsch likely made few friends in Houston with his selection of Brian Ching in the expansion draft. Really though, Houston have no one to be mad at but themselves. Why on earth Dominic Kinnear chose to leave one of the most successful and recognizable strikers in the league unprotected is likely the most foolish move in recent MLS history. It is simply beyond comprehension why a player of such caliber, one who has become the face of the franchise and would help to open a new stadium would be left vulnerable. Kinnear is highly respected and with good reason, but this time he screwed up.

Apart from Kinnear's failing, you have to credit Marsch with seizing an opportunity. He knew he'd receive flak from various people, groups around the league and he did it anyway. It's that type of audacity that can benefit any team and ulitmately the league. Brian Ching is now an incredible bargaining chip. Simply put, teams want him and he may best serve the Impact without ever having set foot in their stadium.

Houston fans cry foul play and call the selection disrespectful, but why? If any manager has the opportunity to pick up a player of that caliber they should take it. If Marsch were to pass up Brian Ching, we'd be calling him bone-headed and questioning the decision to leave him in charge of the Impact through their first season. Rather now, we're seeing a coach who is willing to ruffle feathers in order to see his team successful. Any fan in the league would be happy to see their coach do the same for their team.

Marsch was respectful but candid in his statements on Ching;"We have the utmost respect for Brian, both as a player and as a person. He made it clear he does not want to come here but we think he represents good value. There are teams in the league who think the same thing. I want to consider what is best for Brian's future but I also want to consider what is best for the future of our club."

Tell Jesse Marsch no. We dare you.
"It's a reality of the business. If you want to be a professional player, you must be open to the possibility of moving," said Marsch. This type of attitude speaks volumes to the type of coach he'll be. If he's willing to challenge the words of a league legend, he'll not take nonsense from anyone in his locker room. Furthermore, it speaks to the credibility Marsch thinks he has to select Brian and possibly play him after those statements.

Looking at Ching, his numbers speak for themselves. He's been capped 45 times by the United States and in his ten years of MLS play he's compiled  over 85 goals, three MLS Cups, four conference championships and a Supporter's Shield. This is a man any player or coach would want on his team. So when this man threatens to retire at his selection do you balk? Marsch did not and at present he has one of the best bargaining chips around. Debates now run rampant as to whether or not Ching will, or should, retire to work in Houston rather than play in Montreal.

Fans of the league can rejoice as this decision now creates an instant rivalry between two teams who are geographically opposite. The heat of Houston and the cold of Montreal coupled with the distance give little in common between the two teams, moreover there was no reason for the teams to have any particular reason for hostility, until now. We'll have to wait and see what happens, but one thing is for sure: the first shots of league rivalry for 2012 have been fired and the Impact are winning.