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Will Bruin’s return a rare bright spot in dispiriting loss

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Sounders forward ended 13-month layoff by scoring a goal on his second touch.

Seattle Sounders FC v Los Angeles FC: Knockout Round - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

On a night filled with frustrations, there was at least one bright spot for the Seattle Sounders in their 4-1 loss to Los Angeles FC that knocked them out of the MLS is Back Tournament: the return of Will Bruin.

The journey back from the knee injury he suffered last June was longer and more circuitous than originally planned — spanning 13 months while being interrupted by a global pandemic and a second injury — but went pretty well, all things considered.

In addition to logging 20 minutes, Bruin scored his first goal since last April and was involved in two other quality scoring chances.

“It was a long time coming for me,” Bruin said during the postgame press conference. “My first objective was to complete my first pass and then get into the box. I’m just happy to get back onto the field and play the game I love.”

Just as he planned, Bruin completed his first pass — a simple ball that released Joevin Jones into space along the sideline. Bruin’s second touch was even better.

With Jones running free on the left sideline, Bruin saw a potential opening behind the LAFC backline and raised his arm like he has so many other times during his 10 MLS seasons. Jones spotted the run and delivered a perfect cross, just out of the reach of the LAFC defender and directly into Bruin’s path. Without breaking stride, Bruin took the ball off his right shin and sent into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

After spending most of the game struggling to create chances and giving up plenty on the other end, the Sounders suddenly found themselves down just 2-1. Seemingly energized, Seattle had two good looks at an equalizer, including one on another connection between Jones and Bruin. Jones again delivered an inch-perfect pass and Bruin made another strong run, but this time he was unable to make clean contact and his sliding attempt was off target.

“I’ve always had a good connection with Joevin,” Bruin noted. “He always looks to whip those balls and I know the ball is coming in. We have that chemistry.”

Given how the rest of the match played out, it’s possible — and maybe even likely — that the score wouldn’t have held even if Bruin had converted that second chance. Still, it was good to see Bruin looking like himself.

“It was just good to have that feeling of scoring a goal again, even though the circumstances weren’t what we wanted at all,” Bruin said.