Will Bruin has heard what the critics have said about him. The concerns about his finishing ability and his dip in production were talking points through most of 2013.
As he celebrated a stirring MLS opening day on Saturday night with two goals and an assist, none of the chatter bothered him after the Houston Dynamo forward got off to a scorching start to 2014.
Bruin wasted little time in punishing the visiting New England Revolution backline, scoring twice inside the first 15 minutes and adding an assist for good measure in the 23rd on a Boniek Garcia goal. The hot start was proof that his confidence is not in question.
“I know I can score goals,” Bruin told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s 4-0 Dynamo win. “I never lost confidence in myself and neither did the guys in the locker room. ... There’s always going to be stuff on the outside, but you never let it come in the locker room.”
It was clear from the start that those things said outside the locker room have not affected Bruin. His finishing was precise early, as both his opening-half volley and sliding second goal were well taken. But his teammates weren't surprised.
“We knew what he was capable of,” said Bruin’s strike mate, Giles Barnes. “Everyone knew what he was capable of in this locker room, but to come out and get two goals was good for him and you can see from the celebrations that we were all happy for him.”
Bruin spearheaded what Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said may have been his team’s best start ever to a game. Houston's attack was humming early and pounced on every defensive mistake to punish the Revolution.
The forward could have even had a hat trick if not for New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who thwarted him on a second half 1-v-1. Nonetheless, Bruin and the Dynamo have a start they can build off as the team and forward sent a message about what could be in store for 2014. Last year, especially for Bruin, is a distant memory.
“I think he has a lot in him and I think he’s going to push a lot this year after all the rumors and stuff from last year,” said right back Kofi Sarkodie, who assisted on Bruin’s opener. “I think he’s ready to prove people wrong and ready to show his form.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.