HOUSTON – Before the season, Will Bruin wanted to score eight goals. After taking just 14 games to accomplish that feat, he set the mark at double-digits. With Sunday’s tally against D.C. United, it looks like the striker will once again need to recalibrate his expectations.
The Indiana University alum has shown a drive and determination in his sophomore season not seen a year ago and has been rewarded with 10 goals so far. While he is enjoying the spoils of his play this year, he is quick to remind himself of a rookie season that had more downs than ups and how it has served him well in 2012.
“Last year was a big learning curve and I think I’ve adapted and become better for it and learned how to take care of my body and stay mentally focused,” the 22-year-old told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's date with first-place Sporting Kansas City (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). “When I got that hat trick, I let it go to my head. This year I’m not taking things for granted, not getting too high and I think that’s good.”
GOAL: Bruin gets 10th of 2012
For the first time in his soccer career, Bruin faced real adversity, going through a five-month goal scoring drought, missing extended time due to injury and then, upon his return, sitting on the bench for the remainder of the season.
They were new challenges and some that Bruin admits he did not always deal with well.
“My road here’s been different than most people's,” the striker said. “The longest season I’ve played before being here last year was three-and-a-half months at Indiana. In high school, I played there and the Academy, but I thought of it as, ‘I’m just going to play soccer.’ I never put all the emphasis as I need to now.
“Once I got the injury and came back and didn’t get much time it changed,” Bruin continued. “Growing up I didn’t ever have to sit the bench so it was a good experience for me. Last year, it’s made me better this year and the mentality part is huge.”
Bruin has placed that emphasis on preparation in 2012 and the forward’s resulting production has served both him and his club well.
His 37th-minute strike in Sunday’s 4-0 win over D.C. United gave Houston something the organization has not seen since 2008: a double-digit goal scorer. The first to accomplish the feat since Brian Ching tallied a franchise-high 13 four years ago, Bruin’s outburst has provided the Dynamo attack with a young, legitimate goalscoring threat to go along with veterans Brad Davis and Brian Ching, who are rounding into form with a combined five goals in Houston's last five matches.
“His production’s been excellent,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said of his young forward. “Ten goals in 19 games is good in any league around the world. His finishing has been very good and very consistent. As long as you’re moving and hitting the target it’s a good recipe for scoring goals. I think he’s enjoying scoring goals and his aggressiveness shows that.”
Bruin’s new goal: 13. Considering the way he has been playing, it won't be long before the striker will have to come up with a new goal.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.