As the Houston Dynamo finished their 2013 season on the losing end of a 2-1 defeat to Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in the Eastern Conference Championship, the most frustrated spectator was Will Bruin.
Out with a foot injury, Bruin was forced to watch as an extremely frustrating season came to an end in the way no player wants to happen.
Bruin’s 2013 woes were more than just an injury-ruined finish. He was an ace at creating chances and getting in good spots. Finishing them, however, came into question. While he scored a respectable eight goals, plus two in the playoff opener against the Montreal Impact, it wasn't the season he or anyone expected after a breakout sophomore campaign.
Now that the 2014 season is closing in, Bruin is itching to finally make some new memories to replace some forgettable ones.
“Last year’s over with,” Bruin told MLSsoccer.com. “It wasn’t my best year and I think we all know that. One thing I was proud of is that I had more assists than ever before, so as long as I’m contributing to the scoring that’s a good thing. I’m going to have to try and be the catalyst in the attack and bring plays and be more of a playmaker up front, which is what I’m trying to do, and that’ll lead to more assists and goals as well.”
Adding those face-up skills is the next step for the big forward. While those abilities escaped him at times in 2013, no one in the organization has lost faith in his ability.
“I like scoring goals, but sometimes it gets a little boring just to try and get in the box and get on the end of it,” Bruin said. “I love to get involved with the build-up and the play and it lets me play a little freer than I have in the past. It’s something that if I can get involved in the game earlier, it’ll get me more involved when I get in the box.”
According to head coach Dominic Kinnear, Bruin's ability to create chances and space for others are key parts of his game. Those kinds of runs are what make Bruin dangerous and what Kinnear hopes to see more of in 2014.
“The thing with Will that we talk about is that I think he makes great runs off the ball and just to continue doing that," he said. "It’s the best part of his game. He’s very unselfish that way and he’s very dangerous that way.”
While Bruin missed his share of chances in 2013, he still amassed 31 total goals in his first three seasons, second only to Brian Ching (36), who was in his prime, for goals scored in their first three years with the club. That number is 11 ahead of C.J. Sapong for most in his 2011 draft class as well.
“He does a lot for the team that people may not see,” Kinnear said. “The work he does for the team defensively and offensively is great, and while he may not be scoring, as long as he’s playing well and remains a threat, he’s going to be on the field.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.