Rookie forward Will Bruin had a weekend to remember. He scored the first hat trick of his professional career in a game televised nationally on FOX Soccer and FOX Deportes, he was the No. 5 play of the night on ESPN's SportsCenter, and he brought in more than $200 at a bachelor auction to raise money for teammate Danny Cruz's charitable cause on Saturday night. Not a bad weekend at all.
Bruin joined select clubs as the second-youngest player in league history to score a hat trick (he was 21 years, 187 days, just 17 days older than Stern John was when he scored his 1998 hat trick) and only the fourth rookie in league history to net three goals in a game (joining Brian Maisonneuve, Pat Noonan, and Zack Schilawski, according to the Elias Sports Bureau).
Somewhat remarkably, the list of Dynamo hat tricks is even longer than those previous categories, as Bruin's was the fifth in club history. To refresh your memory, here's a look at each one:
HAT TRICK #1 - Four-goal special
Brian Ching, April 2, 2006, vs. Colorado
In Brief: Nobody who wears a Dynamo jersey to work has ever forgotten this one. The first game in club history, 25,000 fans in the seats, and Ching on the scoreboard three times before halftime. He added a fourth in the 72nd minute.
Supporting Cast: Ching got help from several sources, most notably Brian Mullan, who had a primary assist on the second and third goals, and Dwayne De Rosario, who assisted on all four but had a primary helper only once. Captain Wade Barrett also notched an assist.
Memorable Celebration: Ching punching the air with his fist and rushing into the net, joined by De Rosario in embracing their new home.
Encore: Ching scored again the next week, finished with 11 goals despite missing time at the World Cup, and won the MLS Cup MVP award. We'll call this the gold standard.
Legacy: An unforgettable start that stamped Ching as a fan favorite and the face of the franchise for life.
HAT TRICK #2 - Really? An Astros hat?
Brad Davis, June 21, 2007, vs. Chivas USA
In Brief: As part of a run of Dynamo demolitions on national TV, Houston crushed Chivas USA at home behind a second-half hat trick from Davis, who hit the far corner twice with accurate shots before finishing the rout with a penalty kick.
Supporting Cast: With Ching unavailable, Brian Mullan and Joseph Ngwenya started up top and were dangerous all night. Mullan opened the scoring five minutes in, while Ngwenya, Stuart Holden, and Wade Barrett all notched assists.
Memorable Celebration: After his third goal, Davis motioned to the stands and was tossed an old-school Astros hat, which he put on backwards for a brief run with his teammates before tossing it back into the crowd.
Encore: Davis went down due to injury just a few weeks later but returned in time to help Houston to a second straight MLS Cup title with a championship-winning assist.
Legacy: His hat trick made SportsCenter as well, and the actual "hat" part of the trick has lived on as well.
HAT TRICK #3 - Unstoppable duo
Nate Jaqua, September 8, 2007, vs. Real Salt Lake
In Brief: Taking on a last-place RSL team, Houston burst out to a 4-1 lead in the first hour behind three goals from Jaqua but had to hold on late for a 4-3 win.
Supporting Cast: This was the Corey Ashe show, as he set up all three Jaqua goals with runs down the left-hand side.
Memorable Celebration: Well, I don't remember it, and I can't find it on YouTube. Bueller?
Encore: Jaqua scored one more goal down the stretch and a big one in the playoffs to help Houston to the 2007 title.
Legacy: The most commonly forgetten of the five, due to the opponent and the fact that Jaqua has since moved on to Seattle.
HAT TRICK #4 - Bicycle spectacular
Brian Ching, August 21, 2010, vs. Chicago Fire
In Brief: With Houston desperately needing a home win to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, Ching got a gift for his first goal since July 1, then scored with a spectacular bicycle kick but saw Chicago tie the game 3-3 with 10 minutes left. Never fazed, Ching directed a precise header into the bottom corner in the 85th minute to give Houston the win.
Supporting Cast: All three goals were set up by Richard Mulrooney corner kicks, with Bobby Boswell crashing a shot off the crossbar to set up Ching's bicycle kick. (Boswell lobbied, unsuccessfully, for an assist on the play.)
Memorable Celebration: The bicycle kick got a patented Brian Ching fist pump, but the game-winner brought out the most emotion as he ran toward the supporters' groups in the north end before being mobbed by his teammates.
Encore: The Dynamo lost 3-0 the next week and soon saw their playoff hopes go by the wayside. Ching only scored once more the rest of the season and battled injury once again.
Legacy: Most memorable for the bicycle kick that was not even on the ballot for MLS Goal of the Year even after winning the award outright from ESPN.
HAT TRICK #5 - The Dancing Bear
Will Bruin, April 29, 2011, vs. D.C. United
In Brief: With Houston looking for momentum in a Friday night home game, Bruin scored in the fourth minute but D.C. later tied the game. Bruin quickly got on the board with a second and wrapped up his hat trick with a key goal early in the second half.
Supporting Cast: Geoff Cameron and Brad Davis each had two assists, with Cameron starting the play on the first and second goals and Davis serving perfect crosses on the second and third goals.
Memorable Celebration: His teammates promised they would do a 'Dancing Bear' celebration in honor of his nickname, and Bruin led the inaugural rendition of the dance.
Encore/Legacy: Still to be determined, but Bruin's hat trick has already been the most memorable moment of the Dynamo's year. Let's hope it's not the last.