Sounders FC forward Will Bruin plans on coming back better than ever.
Entering his 10th MLS campaign, the 2020 preseason has a completely different feel for Bruin as he rehabs from the first major injury of his career.
“On a personal level, I’m starting ramp things up,” Bruin said in an interview during the California phase of preseason. “It’s exciting. I’m finally getting sore and tired again, which is a feeling I haven’t had in a while.”
Signed from the Houston Dynamo prior to the 2017 campaign, Bruin made an immediate impact with the Sounders, as his 13 goals and four assists helped Seattle reach MLS Cup for the second consecutive season. He followed that up with seven goals and five assists from 19 starts in his second season with the Rave Green.
There will be plenty of competition for minutes at striker when he finally returns, a reality that only motivates Bruin to continue evolving as a No. 9 during his recovery.
“For a player like me, that’s always good to have competition,” he said. “Like now, you’ve got a player like Raúl [Ruidíaz] in front of me at center forward who’s really, really good. That makes me want to keep improving my game and get back from this rehab.”
Prior to tearing the ACL in his right knee on June 18, the longest amount of time Bruin had spent on the sideline through injury was eight weeks. The veteran forward, who’s bagged 78 goals and 31 assists across his MLS career, has developed a new perspective after such a prolonged spell away from the game he loves.
He intends to make the most of his opportunities when he’s finally able to return to the fray.
“I think I’ve just gotten smarter with how I’m going to play when I come back,” added Bruin. “It’s a cliché saying, but you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I think now that I’ve had extended time when I haven’t been able to play, I’m going to appreciate it and care for it more.”
Still unable to participate in full training, Bruin traveled to California to continue his rehab alongside his teammates | Mike Fiechtner
In addition to a revitalized approach to his craft, Bruin feels that the work he’s been doing while recovering help him return a more complete striker.
“I’ve been working a lot on my balance and stability,” said Bruin. “That’s something I’ve really, really improved so far during my rehab. That change of pace, change of direction and being much smoother.
“On an honest note, I think I’m going to come back from this rehab stronger, and I think I’ve got some of my better years ahead of me now.”
There’s no set date for when Bruin will make his first MLS appearance back from injury. But day by day, week by week, he’s putting in the work away from the limelight to make sure he comes back an improved player.