SEATTLE — Will Bruin needed this. You could sense it in his play, in his body language, in his voice. The Seattle Sounders forward’s job is to score goals and he hadn’t done so in more than two months.
Breaking out with a brace — no matter how sloppy — in the penultimate game of the regular season was the near perfect time.
“For me personally it’s been a while so it feels good to get back to the scoresheet,” said Bruin, who hadn’t registered a goal or an assist in his past nine games. “We clinched a playoff spot and we control our own destiny going into the final week and that’s what you want.”
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer took some of the blame for Bruin’s recent slump, saying he had been putting more emphasis on the forward’s defending than was perhaps helpful. He had backed off that talk in the last couple weeks in the hopes of getting Bruin back onto the scoresheet.
“Tonight, before we went out on the field, Will had brought up, ‘Okay coach, what do you want me to do here defensively?’ I said, ‘Will, I don’t want to talk about your defending, just score some goals.' It was nice little banter back-and-forth.”
The light-hearted exchange seemed to help Bruin relax.
“I think a few games ago I think I gave him a little attitude about always talking about defending when I’m a striker,” Bruin said. “I know I haven’t scored in awhile and that’s all I think about. It was a little inside joke between us. He didn’t bring it up and I was worried about scoring. It was good to get a fortunate bounce to start it. That’s what I do.”
Neither of Bruin’s goals were pretty, but that’s not necessarily his game. Bruin thrives in the muck, using his big body to get on the end of crosses or hold off defenders around the box. The first goal came off a rebound while he was literally being dragged to the ground. The second came after his poor first touch actually worked in the Sounders’ favor and he was in the perfect spot to clean up a loose ball.
“He’s an animal inside the box,” Schmetzer said. “He likes to pick up all the loose pieces [and] he’s good in the air. He’s good at defending for us as well, being that point man in our attack.”
In other words, Bruin’s the kind of forward you need in the MLS Cup playoffs. If the Sounders are going to repeat as MLS Cup champs, they’re going to need someone just like that.