Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin showed off his shiny Gold Cup champion medal at Tuesday’s training. As he looks ahead to rejoining the Dynamo, he’s intent on showing that he returned to Houston with more than just the golden hardware.
This was Bruin’s second stint with the USMNT this year; his first came as part of the MLS-heavy January camp, earning his first international cap against Canada before a home crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium. This time around was more about watching and learning for Bruin, as his only appearance came as a substitute in a Gold Cup warm-up game against Guatemala July 6th.
Even though he failed to get into a tournament game, the time away was beneficial as he spent a lot of time playing at a higher level and, if nothing else, got a break from a tough stretch in MLS that saw him last score May 8th.
“I look at this as, I mean I didn’t play, but it was more to get a change of scenery,” Bruin told the media Tuesday. “I’ve been goalless for a month or two, so it’s a new start for me. I’m going to go out and try and bag some more.”
One of the aspects he hit on about his time with the U.S. was Klinsmann’s desire to win one-v-one battles. Another was the U.S. boss’ insistence to keep the ball and play it simple. Those are things that the Dynamo coaches preach as well.
The messages to Bruin on the field were similar, but where he could benefit most is from the confidence a player can develop simply from being part of a winning outfit and playing the game at a faster pace.
“The level there, the time and space is a lot sharper and faster and I think that’s going to translate when he comes back,” said assistant coach Steve Ralston, who was a part of the 2005 and 2007 U.S. squads that won back-to-back Gold Cups.
“He’s going to be flying. He’s going to want to play,” Ralston continued. “Unfortunately he didn’t get as many minutes as we’d hoped he’d gotten. I’m sure he wanted to play so he’s going to be chomping at the bit to get on the field. Hopefully he can continue that trend of forwards scoring goals for us.”
As Ralston pointed out, while Bruin was away his fellow forwards Giles Barnes and Cam Weaver were able to find the scoring column, against Stoke City and the Chicago Fire respectively, in the last week. As Barnes and Weaver have progressed, the Dynamo has options. They could stick with Barnes and Weaver, or bring Bruin back in to either re-kindle his partnership with Barnes or to play along-side Weaver come Saturday.
“I don’t have a preference,” Bruin said about the forwards he could be paired with come Saturday. “They’re both great players and whoever [head coach Dominic Kinnear] puts out there will be fine.”
With his national team stint providing a boost and a fresh view on a stale season, Bruin’s looking to continue the run that his fellow forwards have started come Saturday against the Columbus Crew.
“I watched the games, the more goals the better,” Bruin said. “It’s good they both got one, now it’s my turn.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.