CARSON, Calif. – For the Houston Dynamo in 2011, everything seemed to click in the middle of September. Geoff Cameron shifted back to central defense, Luiz Camargo slotted in at central midfield, and suddenly all those 1-1 and 2-2 draws turned into 1-0 and 2-1 wins.
Houston, of course, eventually found themselves in the MLS Cup final, and aim to get back there again in 2012. But along the way they’d like to have a few more 3-0 and 4-0 outings, and much of the pressure for that is falling squarely onto the shoulders of second-year forward Will Bruin.
“Last year was kind of a roller coaster of a year, I had my ups and my downs,” Bruin told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday morning. “I might have had my ups a little too early.”
As early as April 29, as a matter of fact. That was the day that Bruin burst into the consciousness of every MLS fan with a hat trick and all-around dominant performance against D.C. United.
Following that game, though, he went on a prolonged scoring drought, and ended up tallying just once more all season. It was a game-winner against San Jose – a superbly taken volley – and both he and his teammates are expecting more of that this time around.
“He’ll do the dirty work, he gets stuck in tackles, he keeps pressuring and pressuring,” Cameron said of Bruin’s game. “But he’s gotta be a little more selfish in the final third. There’s times when he’s passing the ball up when he should be shooting it. With his talent, scoring three goals in a game – he could be doing that consistently every single game.”
Hyperbole aside, Bruin knows he has to be a consistent threat in his second year. He showed well in the Dynamo’s 2-0 win over Montreal on Wednesday, setting up the first goal by peeling off the front line then beating a defender, then dummying a pass at the top of the box for strike partner Cam Weaver on the second goal.
It was a performance that earned the praise of head coach Dominic Kinnear.
“I thought he was key for us on both goals,” Kinnear said of the big forward. “We want more of that from him this season, and he has the talent to be that guy for us.”
Whether he makes the most of that opening is something Bruin isn’t leaving to chance. He’s been working on his game both physically and mentally, and seems to have a grasp of both where and how to improve.
“When to make runs, what kind of runs to make, knowing that it’s not just one run that’s gonna free you up. You’ve got to make multiple runs,” is what Bruin said he’s focused on in the offseason. “And then I’m a goal scorer, so I’m supposed to be shooting. When I’m around the box, be greedy.”
His teammates will like the sound of that.