HOUSTON – Will Bruin heard it all in the offseason. It was his lot in life to make way for big-dollar arrival of Erick “Cubo” Torres and that his time as a Houston Dynamo starter was coming to a close.
Fast forward eight months and as Torres sat on the bench waiting to play in front of his hometown crowd for the first time, Bruin was doing what he has done often for the club this season; scoring.
Bruin tallied the opening goal in a 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy Saturday on the same night that Torres finally made his Dynamo MLS debut. It was his second goal this week having scored in the club’s U.S. Open Cup loss to Sporting Kansas City and his team leading ninth of the season.
“My whole career I’ve had to prove people wrong so it’s nothing new to me. I’ve always had to play with a chip on my shoulder and that’s how I am. I control what I can control and that’s how I play on the field. Everything that comes with it is just outside noise. If I take care of myself leading up to every game I know I can be a top striker in this league and know I can score goals.”
Seeing Bruin make way for Torres was the foregone conclussion at the time of his signing. After paying a club record $7 million transfer fee Torres was seen, and still is today, as a sure-fire starter. Bruin, who has the most goals for the club since being drafted in 2011 with 51 goals in all competitions, was earmarked for redundancy.
“I’d be lying if I said no,” Bruin said when asked if there was a bit of a chip on his shoulder when he heard of the Torres signing. “It’s nothing against Cubo, great guy, we get along together great … I’m just really happy [head coach Owen Coyle] told the team at the beginning of the year every spot’s up for grabs, nothing’s set in stone. I think I’ve been having a good year and being more consistent. I’ve got to prove myself week-in-and-week-out and I think that’s good.”
Those perceptions of Bruin making way for Torres were quite simply wrong.
After flitting in and out of the starting eleven earlier in the season Bruin’s not only played well but he’s made himself integral to the Dynamo’s plans. Bruin is excited to play with Torres and see what a full strength attack can produce.
Coyle said after the game, and has maintained, that Bruin’s turned himself into an all-around target forward and is looking forward to the idea of getting his number nine, Torres and Giles Barnes on the field at the same time.
“He’s developed into a real top-class number nine for me,” Coyle said of Bruin. “I’ve said before he scored a wonderful goal but he wouldn’t have had to score to contribute tonight. People used to say, or they were informing me, he’d go on little runs here or there and you’d never see him, but I’ll tell you what even when he’s not scoring he’s led the line for me.
“You’re right it was well documented that with the signing of Cubo Torres, but Will will tell you that from day one I told him he’s a huge part of what we’re doing moving forward.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.