ORLANDO, Fla. – For most rookies, a debut season with five goals and 21 starts would go down as a success.
Not for Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin, who is eager to make up for what he considers were lost opportunities last year.
“I feel like I kind of took it a little for a granted at the beginning of the season when I was playing in and out,” Bruin told MLSsoccer.com when looking back at 2011. “And then I got the injury [left knee] and I realized it’s harder to make your way back into it once you come back from injury. That was a moment where I wish I did not take for granted some of the time I had. That’s a big thing I’m going to be working on this year.”
Bruin feels that last April’s hat trick against D.C. United in just the seventh match of the season “set the bar too high,” making it look like scoring was going to come easy for the 6-foot-2, 194-pound forward. He only scored one more goal the rest of the way and made one start in the club’s final 12 regular season games.
And so the St. Louis native is now dead set on making every scoring opportunity count in 2012 and it starts with no hesitations on half-chances, “shooting from anywhere around the box to be looking to score.”
And there’s one other motivation that will be lending to his no-nonsense, all-business approach this year: a US Olympic snub by the latest Under-23 camp.
Although he still holds out hope that there is a chance he can be on the trip to the London Olympics should the USA qualify, he’s not holding his breath, especially after a spell with U-23 manager Caleb Porter in December.
“I had the feel that they’re looking to play a formation [4-3-3] where they already have guys set in the center forward position that are very good players,” Bruin said in reference to Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury and Terrence Boyd.
“To tell you the truth, I walked away from that camp not expecting to get called back in and that kind of put some fire in my belly to show them that I can score here [in MLS] and put some goals in here.
“Things can happen [for an Olympic call-up this summer]. That’s why I’m just trying to stay sharp. But I’m still keeping that fire and that motivation in the back of my mind that they just overlooked me.”
The change in attitude is palpable from Bruin.
Expect that happy dancing bear goal-scoring celebration from his rookie year to more closely resemble a ferocious bear claw tearing through MLS by the time this coming season is through.