There may not have been a better time for a bear to reappear at Robertson Stadium.
With his team pushing for a much-sought-after three points at home, Will “the Dancing Bear” Bruin found his scoring touch in the 79th minute to give the Houston Dynamo a 2-1 home victory. The win pushes the Dynamo to 39 points — just two behind Eastern Conference leader Columbus — and provides a boost to the team’s already solid playoff chances.
“I’m happy for him, and his goal was the winning goal, so I’m happy for that too,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “It relieves a lot of pressure. The one thing he said coming off the field was, ‘That was a long time coming.’ The kid works hard, and his run was excellent.”
Bruin – who tied Geoff Cameron for the club rookie record for MLS appearances in a season with 23 – came into the game at the 74-minute mark. Five minutes into his first league appearance at home since a knee injury cost him the month of August, the rookie struck and sent 18,129 Houston fans home happy.
On the goal, newcomer Luiz Camargo – who started his second straight match in central midfield – found space up the right flank and sent a probing cross into the box. Bruin made a quick decision to finish with his left foot and put the winner across San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
The tally ended Bruin's nearly five-month scoring drought — he last scored on April 29 against D.C. United — and gives him the scoring lead for MLS rookies with five goals on the season. Accompanying the goal was what is becoming Bruin’s signature celebration — the dancing bear.
“I don’t think, until this year when I met Will, I’ve ever been excited to see a guy dance like a bear,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “Every time I see it I’m pretty happy. He’s one of those guys that’s always trying to get more information and make smarter runs and be a better teammate. He’s put in the work every single day, and today it paid off.”
With some of the pressure off, Bruin’s confidence received a boost — and the rookie's scoring touch would be welcomed down the stretch.
“It was definitely a confidence-booster, getting back on the scoresheet,” Bruin said. “It’s been a while, since April, so it was a confidence-booster and a great time to do it with the late [playoff] push.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.