TUKWILA, Wash. – As the MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders kicked off their 2017 preseason with a light practice session at Starfire Sports Complex on Tuesday, new acquisitions Will Bruin and Harry Shipp were looking ahead to a fresh start.
The Sounders acquired Bruin in a December trade following a productive six-year stint with the Houston Dynamo that saw him score 50 goals across 178 appearances.
But the 27-year-old forward is coming off a difficult final season with the Dynamo that saw him net just four goals. Speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s practice, Bruin said he hopes the move to Seattle proves to be the spark that allows him to recapture the form that made him one of the league’s more reliable goal-scorers.
“It was something where I was ready for another challenge and another chapter in my career. I just didn’t know where,” Bruin said. “It doesn’t take away anything I had with Houston for the six years there. But I’m ready for something else. I got maybe a little too comfortable there. I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself again.
“I think that’s when I play my best, when I’m uncomfortable, when I’m on my toes.”
Shipp’s arrival to the Sounders comes under similar circumstances.
The 25-year-old midfielder had a standout rookie campaign as a member of his hometown Chicago Fire in 2014, ending up as a finalist for the league’s Rookie of the Year award and tallying a team-high eight assists in 2015. But after an unexpected trade to the Montreal Impact, his production waned last season as he tallied two goals and three assists in 27 games before getting traded to the Sounders this offseason.
On Tuesday, Shipp said he’s already taken to his new surroundings.
“The soccer culture in Seattle is great,” Shipp said. “Just being here for a couple weeks, seeing all the Sounders stuff around the city, talking to some fans, it’s exciting to play out here. I’m looking forward to hopefully playing well on the field.”
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey also said on Tuesday that his hope is the change of scenery will be just what both players need to be in position for bounce back 2017 campaigns.
If that vision comes to fruition, the Sounders hope they have two more attacking assets to a group that already includes playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro, Rookie of the Year winner Jordan Morris and, potentially, forward Clint Dempsey, who trained with the team to start preseason after missing the second half of 2016 due to an irregular heartbeat.
“Both those kids are really hungry,” Lagerwey said. “We try to find stressed assets and rehabilitate them and those guys are usually good value. Both Will and Harry are coming off down years and we think they’re kids that are both really talented and can really help our team.”