MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact have traded Brian Ching back to the Houston Dynamo, the team he never wanted to leave.
The veteran forward was sent back to Houston on Thursday in exchange for a conditional first round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
Montreal selected Ching first overall in the expansion draft in November, even though the 33-year-old made it clear he was disappointed to have been left available by the Dynamo.
He threatened to retire, but ended up reporting when Montreal opened camp on Jan. 16.
"We have made this decision based on reasons that we felt were beneficial for both the desires and needs of our club and the wishes of Brian Ching," Impact coach Jesse Marsch said in a statement. "We wish him luck on his return to Houston and thank him for his commitment and professionalism while a member of our organization."
Ching left the Impact's camp in Carson, Calif., this week for what the team said was personal reasons.
The American striker has said he wanted to end is career in Houston and had especially been looking forward to playing in the Dynamo's new stadium.
After the deal was announced, Ching said in a Twitter message: ''I'm excited to be back in Houston. I am going to miss my @impactmontreal boys. Best of luck this year. I know you guys will do well.''
Ching scored four times in Houston's inaugural game in 2006 and is the team's all-time leading scorer with 63 goals, nearly twice more than second-place Dwayne De Rosario. He is fifth all-time in games played for the club with 168, fourth in games started with 144 and third in assists with 24.
"I am very happy to have Brian back with the team," said Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear. "This is a very important year for the Dynamo, and if anyone deserves to be involved with the team, it's Brian."
Ching was limited to 20 appearances last season due to injury, but still tied for the team lead with five goals. He also helped Houston reach the MLS Cup Final.
"It feels good having Brian back where he belongs," said Dynamo president Chris Canetti. "It was a long and difficult process, but we got the right result.
"I am happy that he will have the opportunity to play in the new stadium in front of his Houstonian fans who so badly wanted him here."
The move leaves the Impact thin at forward, where Justin Braun, Miguel Montano, Steven Miller and Canadians Evan James and Cal Haworth are vying for spots in the starting 11. Veteran Eduardo Sebrango is also trying out for the squad.
The Impact have 24 players on their roster, six under the limit, and are expected to add bodies before they kick off their inaugural MLS season on the road March 10 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
They play their first home game March 17 against the Chicago Fire at Olympic Stadium.