The life of a striker is usually predicated upon scoring goals.
When they’re filling the stat sheet, they’re beloved. When they’re not, they come under fire regardless of other factors.
However, there’s an underlying factor that doesn’t fit in. For forwards, their chances are usually dependent upon the play of those around them. Getting quality service in good areas can turn five goals into 15.
No forward embodies this more than Will Bruin.
The Houston Dynamo forward is a lightning rod for praise and criticism. Of course, the situation isn't perhaps completely cut and dry. After a rough eight-game streak without a goal, Bruin has rebounded with three goals in his last four games, including two game winners. He'll try to build on that Saturday when Houston travel to face the Colombus Crew (6:30 p.m. CT; CSN Plus/Telemundo).
While his runs and work were there, he’s now getting more chances with a consistently healthy lineup.
“You start getting chemistry with people and you know when they’re going to cross the ball, when they’re going to play you the ball,” Bruin said. “That goes a long ways. A striker’s only as good as his service, and we’ve been getting good service.”
Despite his nine goals this season, Bruin’s rarely talked about in the group of top scorers in the league. His faults and inconsistencies are easier to pick out perhaps due to a lack of flair. There is some merit to the criticisms, however, with scoring droughts over the past two seasons.
This year, he struggled through eight games without a goal, during which the Dynamo were winless and the chances never came his way and his ability to generate them himself was also lacking.
“When I went through that rough stretch I was only getting one or two chances a game and I wasn’t sharp,” Bruin said. “That’s how it goes sometimes, and you can’t let it get to you.”
Said head coach Dominic Kinnear: “We weren’t getting a ton of the ball in the attacking areas, and I think we’re getting more of that now and it gives him more chances. I think he sees the danger before. You have to have faith in your teammates to be willing to do that. He’s willing to run in behind the defense.”
It’s shown. The willingness to make runs and find good spots to get on the end of chances led to 23 “big chances” last year, which led the league. The issue was he only converted six.
This season he’s seen 11 of those opportunities in 23 games and has put away five. It’s far from Chivas USA’s Erick Torres’ production – who is 10 for 12 – but is in line with the likes of Obafemi Martins, Mike Magee and Clint Dempsey.
“You know what you’re going to get from him every single week,” said midfielder Brad Davis. “He’s going to work his tail off for the team, and with that work he’s going to create chances.”
While he’s far from perfect, Bruin’s shown in the last month that when he’s going well the Dynamo will benefit — the team is 6-0-2 this year when he scores.
“As long as I keep getting these chances, I’m going to score them,” Bruin said. “It’s not like I’m going to score 50 goals a year, although I wish and some people expect that, but that’s how it is. As long as I’m getting in there and we’re getting service and chances we’re going to get goals.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.