The year 2012 is starting to have an eerily similar feeling to 2011 for those watching the progress of Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin.
Things fell into place quickly as Bruin flourished playing off of Brian Ching to the tune of nine goals in the first 15 matches of this year's campaign. Since then, Bruin has managed just one goal in the last 10. It’s a drought that draws comparisons to a rookie season that saw him endure a near five-month goal drought.
While there may be some remnants of last season's struggles, the striker and his coach are far from pushing the panic button.
“Inside he’s probably getting frustrated but he’s playing well and he’s one of the reasons we’re doing well,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com. “If he wasn’t getting chances or having a tough time there would be cause for concern. He’s getting his chances, those goals were going in before and now they’re not but he’s still getting chances.”
According to Kinnear there are a few contributing factors for Bruin’s recent troubles. First, is the transition to a new system: a 4-3-3 formation. The new system, which Bruin admits he is still learning, has meant more running and defensive responsibilities with fewer chances, as he takes on a true No. 9 role of helping open up the attack.
WATCH: Bruin taps in off feed from Camargo
There is also the fact that Bruin has everyone’s attention.
“He’s not a secret anymore,” the Dynamo boss said. “A lot of teams are crowding him out and we’ve changed our system a bit. It makes it a little more difficult for him but his movement is still good."
Still, Bruin knows things are not the same as they were earlier in the season. He understands that the ball does not seem to be bouncing his way or getting off his foot very well at the moment. Both he and Kinnear pointed to a missed opportunity when he made an excellent play to turn Chad Marshall in the first half Sunday only to mishit the ensuing shot.
It is the type of chance that Bruin was depositing in the back of the net two months ago.
“It’s frustrating but you’ve got to stay positive,” the sophomore striker said. “Last year, I let it get to me too much, but this year I’m just trying to have a short memory.”
While things may not be going his way now, Bruin is confident that things will start to turn back around in the near future. The forward pointed to using his energy wisely when working off the ball, something he’s discussed with Ching, and putting the ball on frame as points of emphasis to hone in on.
“Every forward goes through [a slump],” Bruin said. “Eventually it will come. I don’t think I’m done for the year.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.