HOUSTON—Will Bruin has produced once again for the Houston Dynamo in 2015.
With 11 goals in his ledger, the forward leads the team in scoring. And 2015 marked his third double-digit scoring season in only five years as a pro – and fourth consecutive, counting playoff goals as well.
The St. Louis native has been a consistent presence in attack for the Dynamo since the club traded up to select him No. 11 overall in the 2011 SuperDraft. Over the last four years, Bruin ranks fourth with 47 total MLS goals (regular season plus playoffs), trailing only Robbie Keane (76), Chris Wondolowski (68) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (48).
But with his contract up at the end of the 2015 campaign, will Bruin continue scoring goals in Dynamo Orange?
“I think I have a really good relationship with [head coach Owen Coyle]," Bruin said. "I think I’ve definitely gained his trust from the beginning of the year until now. But I know it’s a business. I would love to stay here, but I’m not just going to stay here to stay here.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my family. If I told you this is the only place that’s interested, I’d be lying to you. This is my fifth year, and I’ll give them first say. I’m willing to talk, for sure. But I’m going to keep all my doors open.”
According to Bruin, his representation has reached out to the Dynamo but has yet to engage in negotiations. A source with knowledge of the situation also confirmed contact between the two sides.
General Manager Matt Jordan cited club policy in declining to speak about contract matters with MLSsoccer.com, but he did offer praise for Bruin’s play and production this season.
“I think Will’s shown a tremendous amount of commitment,” Jordan said. “He’s shown he’s willing to put in the work. His hard work has paid off, and as a result, he’s had a good season. What you know with Will is you’re always going to get an honest effort.”
That play has been punctuated by Bruin's 11 goals, which have come on just 45 shots.
Despite producing efficient goal totals and becoming Houston's second-leading all-time playoffs scorer (six goals), Bruin has been one of the club’s more polarizing players, battling the highs and lows that come with being a striker. When he scores, fans shower him with love; when Bruin suffers a dry spell, the outpour slow.
With experience, Bruin has begun developing into a more complete forward.
“Will Bruin’s a terrific player,” Coyle said. Myself and the staff, we love working with him“Contract negotiations are not my realm, obviously, with the way the club’s structured. We like Will, he plays every week, and he plays every week for a reason. I think he’d tell you himself he feels he’s a far more rounded player, which is good for his development.”
Said Bruin: “I think I’m kind of what he looks for in a player with that will to win and being honest with that competitive drive. It’s very structured [here], which I like; I need a lot of structure.”
Yet the Dynamo still made a splashy move, bringing in a Designated Player at his position: Erick “Cubo” Torres. The Mexican international, who arrived this past summer, was projected by many to be the surefire choice up top for the Dynamo, with Bruin likely playing a diminished role.
Torres’ season performance has proven a rollercoaster, one that's never aligned on its track during 10 league appearances for Houston. And Bruin has turned in yet another high-scoring year. Which makes the Dynamo’s upcoming offseason all the more fascinating.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.