One player you don’t have to tell about slumps is Houston Dynamo second-year forward Will Bruin. In 2011, the rookie set a high bar, scoring four goals and notching his first career hat trick not long before his first month in the league was through.
But then he hit the wall most rookies run into, and his numbers sank. He scored just one goal the rest of the way and came back in 2012 with a quiet start, leading some to wonder if Bruin’s early 2011 breakthrough was a fluke or just the latest case of a rookie struggling to find his feet in MLS.
WATCH: Bruin's 1st of the season
“I don’t really listen to the outside stuff,” Bruin told MLSsoccer.com. “… I think I was putting pressure on myself to score instead of relaxing and playing and letting the game come. I had a big slump last year and I set the bar too high early, and this year I was looking to be more consistent.”
Bruin’s done just that the last two times out, notching two goals and an assist in a pair of road draws at Chicago and Columbus.
This season he’s also spread out 16 shots and 10 shots on goal, both Dynamo highs, providing a constant and consistent threat.
“He’s confident and he gets a couple of chances a game just from his movement and work off the ball,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com after last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew. “We said in preseason that Will was going to have a big year, and if he continues to play this way, he will.”
Bruin’s confidence continues to grow after the last two outings, and with an important early season challenge at D.C. United looming on Saturday.
“You want a forward that feels that way and that’s the mentality that he has right now,” defender Geoff Cameron said. “Going into this weekend you have to feel good with him and Brian [Ching]. [Will’s] finding that knack for goal and that’s good for us.”
While Bruin is in form now, he knows that no forward can score in every game. If he wants to stave off a repeat of 2011’s slump, is to stay focused on what he can control.
“You just can’t get too high on the highs. I did that after the hat trick last year, but it’s a long season,” he said. “I told my parents after the last game, ‘This is what got me here, scoring goals.’ It’s what I love to do and what I should be doing.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.