Landon Donovan is coming to Houston — thanks to Brian Ching.
The biggest U.S. soccer star in the world agreed to help headline a testimonial match at BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday, Dec. 13 — six days after this year's MLS Cup Final — to pay tribute to the retiring Dynamo star's career. Donovan's presence immediately gives the night a chance to be one of the more unforgettable moments in recent Houston soccer history — right up there with the opener of BBVA Compass Stadium last May and the MLS All-Star Game at the 70,000 seat Reliant Stadium in 2010. (Unfortunately, the last two MLS Cup Finals were played in LA.)
Of course, Donovan's presence also speaks to the immense respect fellow U.S. soccer stars have for the six-time MLS All-Star, three-time Cup winner and former U.S. National Team difference maker.
"The highest compliment I could give him is that I wish I could have been his teammate along the way."
"The highest compliment I could give him is that I wish I could have been his teammate along the way," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said in a press release sent out by the Dynamo.
Besides Donovan — who if anything has become an even bigger star as the U.S. roared through World Cup qualifying this summer — Chris Wondolowski, Brad Davis, Dwayne de Rosario, Pat Onstad, Steve Ralston, Davy Arnaud, Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe, Mike Chabala, Danny O’Rourke, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett, Brian Mullan, Frankie Hejduk, Matt Reis, Craig Waibel, Jimmy Conrad, Paul Dalglish and John Spencer have already committed to playing in the match.
The stars will be split into Team Orange (wonder who's captaining that one?) and Team Black for the testimonial.
“I’ve gotten positive feedback from everyone I’ve asked to participate,” Ching said. “It’s wonderful to have fellow players who are willing to support and be there for me during my last game on the field.”
The 35-year-old Ching — who scored four goals in the Dynamo's first-ever game on April 2, 2006 — is once again breaking new ground. His game will be the first testimonial match in the history of the MLS.
There is a long tradition of holding testimonial matches to honor retiring greats throughout the rest of the soccer-playing world. The Ching match will benefit his charity — The House That Ching Built. Tickets start at $25 and go on sale to the general public this Friday.
Let the Landon and Ching fever begin.