Al Chase

Just For Kicks

By Al Chase

Ching, Scott lead Seattle
to division title

BRIAN Ching and Zach Scott made major contributions to Seattle's 23-4-1 A-League regular-season record.

The Sounders won the Pacific Division title by 44 points over Portland.

The Gonzaga graduates who prepped at Kamehameha and Maui High School, respectively, have one important characteristic in common, according to Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer.

"Whether they did it on their own or got it at Gonzaga, they are both hard workers. That's what I like," said Schmetzer, who is in his first season with Seattle.

Ching, who joined the Sounders after being released by the Los Angeles Galaxy, finished second in A-League scoring with 16 goals and had eight assists for 40 points. He was third in shots taken with 74. He was one of three strikers named to the All-League Team.

"Brian's ability to score is a combination of many things," Schmetzer said. "He has the desire to win games and that counts for a lot in the pro ranks.

"He is smart enough to understand he has worked harder to get to the top and be successful. Brian has that attitude. He has size, speed and soft feet, meaning he controls the ball and has a nice first touch. He is more than a big target. He is a big-target guy who can do things with the soccer ball."

Scott attended a week-long tryout last March and was offered a contract after playing in a couple of exhibition matches. He played in 18 matches, starting eight, mostly at left marking back in the Sounders' 3-5-2 system, but Schmetzer says he can handle any position on the back line.

"Of all the rookies, Zach played the most. That's a good start for that young man," Schmetzer said. "I like him more in the middle of the field because of his athleticism."

Scott found the biggest challenge jumping from Division I college ball to the A-League being the speed of the game. It was the same thought Ching expressed a year ago.

"Your train of thought has to be just as quick," said Scott, who scored two goals during the regular season. "You have to know where the ball is going before it happens. And, if you are not improving, you are going to sit on the bench. Everything is one touch, not two touch. I've come a long way in that respect."

Scott would like a shot at playing for a Major League Soccer team, but says he needs another year with the Sounders to be prepared for that day.

Ching hopes to return to the MLS next year.

"The experience and my confidence were the big things this year. I came in confident and did really well," Ching said. "Maybe I'll get another look. That's what this whole season was about."

He is eligible for the MLS draft next year and expects to have tryouts before then.

College notes

Adam Sthay, a reserve for two seasons, is the starting goalkeeper for Loyola Marymount. The Punahou graduate has allowed two goals in four matches (0.47 goals allowed per match). The Lions are 3-0-1 and were ranked No. 20 last week in the coaches poll.

Eaton O'Neill, a freshman striker from Iolani, scored twice on head shots as Denison defeated Muskingum 6-1 in its home opener Wednesday. A week ago Saturday he scored the only goal in the Big Red's 1-0 win over Wilmington.

Just for Kicks runs every other Sunday in the Star-Bulletin.

Al Chase can be reached at

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