TUCSON, Ariz. — Last season ended earlier than any of the Seattle Sounders wanted, but the extra time off has already paid dividends during the 2019 preseason.
2017 was forward Will Bruin’s first season in Seattle, when the club made a deep postseason run to MLS Cup before starting the 2018 campaign early with CONCACAF Champions League. But now with the extra time away from the game, he and the rest of the team are rested and ready to hit the ground running in 2019.
“[The offseason] was good, longer than we would like, but I think that’s good for the body, good for everybody to refresh mentally,” said Bruin after the team’s training session on Thursday at the University of Arizona. “Guys are excited to get back out and get some games going and get that feeling of hard, good work in.”
The Sounders have three friendlies in Tucson against fellow MLS teams. They play the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, the Portland Timbers on Wednesday and then finish with FC Dallas the following Saturday. The results are less important than the ability to regain match fitness and build some cohesion ahead of the MLS season-opener on March 2 against FC Cincinnati (7 p.m. PT; FS1 | SINGLE MATCH TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW).
“There’s always room to improve and a lot of things we need to work on, and the best way to do that is to get put into a game environment,” said Bruin. “It’s going to be good individually for people to work on stuff tactically, keeping the ball and maintaining possession, and then as a whole group making sure we have a good compact shape. Those are two bullet points to get after.”
2019 will be Bruin’s third season in Seattle and represents a chance for him to get back in the double-digit goal column, a personal objective of his every year. He finished 2018 with seven goals in 19 starts and recorded five assists, the second-most in his eight-year career.
“I really want to focus every day at training, push everybody,” he said. “If guys are in front of me playing, I want to push them and push [the coaching staff] to make hard decisions and make sure I do whatever I can to get on the field. I’m going to try and be as fit as possible going into the start of the season, and I think that will give me a good advantage.”