The Will Bruin era opened in earnest on Sunday night in Houston as the Dynamo rookie scored his first MLS goal to cap the hosts’ cathartic 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Robertson Stadium.
Bruin, who was drafted 11th overall during the MLS SuperDraft after Houston manager Dominic Kinnear traded up to land the imposing forward out of Indiana University, finished off a breakaway chance in the 76th minute after streaking past the Whitecaps back line and skirting Vancouver goalkeeper Jay Nolly.
Midfielder Brad Davis picked up the assist on Bruin’s goal on a gorgeous through ball that set the rookie free, and Bruin did the rest in his fourth start of the season up top for the Dynamo (1-2-1).
“I saw Will try to make his run,” Davis told the Houston Chronicle. “I just caught the defender about to step up and to try to pull him offside. I just tried to put it into his path. All I had to do was bend it around the corner. Will kept running, made a great run, had a great touch and a great finish.”
Bruin has logged 299 minutes this season as a reliable starter alongside Cam Weaver for the Dynamo. He had four shots in the win over Vancouver.
“I made eye contact with Brad, and I knew he was going to play it already,” Bruin told the Chronicle. “I just started making the run. It was a great bended ball into my run. The goalie came off his line. I knew I was going to beat him to it.”
Chivas USA rookie Zarek Valentin, meanwhile, capped a long week by helping Chivas USA (0-2-2) earn a scoreless draw against the visiting Columbus Crew on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.
[inline_node:333458]Valentin was part of the US Under-20 national team that was in Guatemala earlier in the week for the CONCACAF Championships and lost to the hosts in Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup, denying the Americans a chance at the World Cup.
Valentin promptly returned to the US and suited up for the Goats in his first start season the team’s season opener on March 19. Matched up against the Crew’s imposing forward Emilio Renteria, Valentin logged 90 minutes despite the exhaustive travel schedule.
“I started to feel my legs at the end of the match," Valentin told MLSsoccer.com. "I think that the trip to Guatemala caught up to me at the end of the match, but you still need to stay sharp, which is the most important thing. I think that they let me off the hook personally a few times, but it’s important to stay focus and even when you’re tired, those are the moments that you need to stay sharpest.”
Vancouver rookie Omar Salgado made his MLS debut on Sunday night in the Whitecaps’ 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo, coming on in the 83rd minute for Brazilian forward Camilo. Salgado – who was taken first overall in the MLS SuperDraft and later won an appeal against FIFA to allow him to play with Vancouver before his 18th birthday in September – failed to log a shot in the match and had just three touches on the ball in his brief debut.
[inline_node:333535]New England’s A.J. Soares earned his fourth start of the season last Wednesday, but left long before the Revs’ 1-1 draw against Vancouver wrapped up, thanks to a 74th-minute red card after a tackle on Vancouver’s Atiba Harris.
The Revs’ Stephen McCarthy earned starts against Vancouver and Real Salt Lake this week and logged a combined 97 minutes, while Vancouver’s Michael Boxall has now started four matches this season after suiting up against New England and again vs. Houston on Sunday night.
Chicago’s Jalil Anibaba also picked up another start in the Fire’s 2-1 loss to Seattle on Saturday. The University of North Carolina alum has played all 270 minutes for Carlos de los Cobos’ team this season.
D.C. United midfielder Chris Korb logged his third start of the season in a 1-1 draw against the Galaxy on Saturday night, but found himself on the wrong end of a yellow-card tackle from David Beckham in the 41st minute. Korb was subbed out in the 72nd minute for Andy Najar.
Forward Blake Brettschneider continued to pile up the minutes for DC as well, earning his second consecutive start before he was subbed out in the 53rd minute for eventual hero Charlie Davies.
Columbus Crew handyman Rich Balchan picked up his fourth start of the season in the Crew’s draw against Chivas USA, this time logging another full 90 minutes at left back.
Vancouver’s Jeb Brovsky made his MLS debut in Vancouver’s loss on Sunday to the Dynamo, logging all 90 minutes in the central midfield.