SEATTLE — Will Bruin had been waiting for his opportunity.
In Saturday’s 3-2 win over Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Sounders forward recorded a brace, his first two goals of the year, and helped the Sounders collect their fifth win in six matches to start the season.
Coming into this year, Bruin had appeared in 60 regular-season matches for Seattle since joining from the Houston Dynamo prior to the start of the 2017 season. He scored 18 goals and added two goals and two assists in six playoff matches as well. But since the arrival of Designated Player Raúl Ruidíaz last summer, who himself has scored 13 goals in 17 regular-season starts, Bruin’s appearances have been limited.
Ruidíaz has been battling a heel contusion that he suffered against the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 30 and was what Head Coach Brian Schmetzer called a gameday decision for Saturday’s match. Bruin stepped up and did his job, like he always has, like he always does.
“He always works, he always does what we ask him to do,” said Schmetzer. “I know what I’m going to get with Will. I’m always going to get that effort. I’m always going to get that determination to score.”
Bruin celebrates his first goal of the afternoon | Mike Fiechtner
After being an unused substitute for the first three matches of the season, Bruin played a full 90 minutes with the Sounders’ USL Championship affiliate the Tacoma Defiance on April 1 to keep his fitness up, knowing he might need to be called upon for substantial First Team minutes. He scored and added an assist in a 2-1 win over Sacramento Republic.
Since then, Bruin has started the last two matches for the Sounders and helped them earn maximum points. He scored his first goal of the year in the 24th minute on Saturday, a diving header off a deflected Brad Smith cross. Bruin then put the Sounders ahead in the 66th minute, sliding in front of a Smith cross and sneaking it past goalkeeper Quentin Westberg.
“Sometimes those conversations [with the coaching staff] are tough and we handle it like men,” said Bruin. “I always want to play whenever I can, and [Schmetzer] wants to put out a squad that’s going to get three points. I understand that, it’s business. My job is, when I get opportunities, to score."
“It’s always good getting the first goal of the season out of the way, and I was able to double it up tonight,” he continued. “But that’s the hardest part, just staying mentally ready. When you have as good of a team as we do, it’s going to be like that sometimes.”
Ruidíaz will likely be healthy enough to play next weekend for a massive showdown in Los Angeles against LAFC (4 p.m. PT; FS1, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM), but there will still be plenty more opportunities for Bruin. He knows that, as does Schmetzer, and having a player like Bruin at his disposal is something he doesn’t take lightly.
“I am not ever going to take Will Bruin for granted,” said Schmetzer. “The underlying thing in every single conversation I have with Will Bruin, and what has made him the fifth-leading goal-scorer as far as active players are concerned, is he’s all about being an honest guy. He always works. He always does what we ask him to do.”