Will Bruin never hesitated. Having beaten the backline to get into a one-on-one situation against the opposing goalkeeper, the forward knew exactly where he wanted to go: up and over.
Bruin’s 83rd-minute chip sailed just out of the reach of goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey to ice a 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers.
“A few years ago I would’ve tried to do something and missed it,” Bruin said after the game. “I was just like ‘get up, get up, get up’ and thank god you couldn’t even slide a credit card under his feet. One thing I’m trying to implement into my game is week-in-and-week out you’ve got to bring it. Earlier in my career it would be a few goals here and a few goals there and that’s not good enough. It’s got to be every day.”
It was his second goal of the game and third in two outings. Bruin’s confidence is on a high and the Dynamo are the beneficiaries.
“For me the goals were the icing on the cake to his overall performance as a striker,” said head coach Owen Coyle. “When you play up there by yourself it’s not easy to play against two big center halves in [Liam] Ridgewell and [Nat] Borchers. For me I think those are good players, but I think he dominated the game tonight.”
Bruin's goals have usually been a good omen for Houston. In the last 12 games that the forward has found the back of the net, the Dynamo's record is 9-0-3 with 14 goals scored.
Outside of those games, however, it’s been an up-and-down situation.
This season alone, the forward has shuffled in and out of the starting lineup as Coyle has tinkered with matchups on a weekly basis. After scoring against Toronto FC, Coyle chose to keep Bruin in the mix over Alex López, who came off the bench to assist on Giles Barnes’ winner, with captain Brad Davis returning to the lineup.
“That wasn’t even up for debate. I’m his biggest admirer … I’ve got nothing but encouragement for him. We never lost belief and faith we had in him,” Coyle said. “What we had to do was get Will that sharpness he’s got to go with everything he’s brought. He’s had it since that D.C. [United] game. When Will’s in that form, he’s an easy pick. You hang your hat on him and away he goes because that’s what he does.”
Bruin certainly repaid his coach’s confidence.
In addition to his cheeky clincher, he made a smart run and headed home the game’s first goal in the ninth minute and he could've had a quick second just five minutes later in the 14th minute were it not for a whistle by referee Edvin Jurisevic, who spotted a foul on Fanendo Adi.
“He’s a beast up there. He’s always working hard and doing the dirty work,” said midfielder Ricardo Clark. “Once he adds his finishing touch he’s a great player and a hard one to stop.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.