With Will Bruin working up top, Seattle's offense is looking potent as ever

SEATTLE – After an uneven start to their 2017 season, the Seattle Sounders’ attack might just be hitting its stride.

Over the course of their last two matches – a 3-0 blowout of the LA Galaxy and dramatic 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution that saw the Seattle erase a three-goal deficit – the Sounders have posted some eye-popping offensive statistics in addition to the six goals, including averages of 21 shots, 65.9 percent possession and 88 percent passing accuracy.

One potential reason for the recent uptick in production? A tactical shift prior to the LA game from head coach Brian Schmetzer that moved reigning MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris out to the wing and offseason signee Will Bruin into the starting role as the central forward at the top of Seattle’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

“It’s great,” Morris said of the move after the win over LA. “I think Will does such a good job of just battling and fighting and holding the ball up. He’s just very good in the box.

“My game is a little more – I like to run at people. So, [Bruin's] movement and stuff like that opened up some space and I could play a little wider [and] run at people and try and get behind and things like that. I thought it was good.”

Whether Morris should be deployed on the wing or as a center forward has been the subject of much discussion dating back to last season. The 22-year-old is considered by many to be a striker by trade, but his breakneck speed has allowed him to excel out wide at times too, including during Seattle’s 2016 MLS Cup playoff run when former teammate Nelson Valdez slotted in up top.

This season, it’s Bruin who Schmetzer moved into the No. 9 role and the early returns have followed. The longtime Houston Dynamo standout is a proven MLS goal-scorer but it’s his mere physical presence that has proven instrumental in affording Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey increased room to operate.

“I think I can take some of the pressure off a lot of our creative guys and let them do their thing underneath me,” Bruin said. “My job is to occupy the center backs, keep the lines high and sneak in behind them if they’re playing too high.”

Midfielders Ozzie Alonso and Cristian Roldan also deserve their fair share of credit for the recent fireworks due to their defensive work rates and pinpoint passing. Left back Joevin Jones is also off to a torrid start to the season, racking up five assists, which has him tied for the MLS lead.

But Bruin’s infusion into the starting XI certainly looks to have unlocked a formula that has thus far proven difficult to stop. Whether that means a permanent move to the wing for Morris remains to be seen, but for now, the Sounders look to have found a first-choice front four.

“His instincts inside the 18-yard box are tremendous,” Schmetzer said of Bruin. “They’re tremendous. He’ll watch the flight of the ball and if he can’t get on it, if it’s going over his head or somebody else is challenging him, he’ll put himself in a position where thinks the ball might drop. His instincts are what make him such a good goal-scorer.”