Sounders FC striker Will Bruin marks his return from a year on the sidelines with a deserved goal

In most circumstances, it would be difficult to glean any positives from a lopsided loss to a conference rival in an elimination tournament. While Seattle’s defeat at the hands of LAFC on Monday night was certainly disappointing, you don’t have to look too far to find a crucial silver lining.

With 20 minutes remaining in the match, Sounders FC striker Will Bruin, who spent more than a year battling back from an ACL injury and working through setbacks, made his return to the pitch.

“Honestly, it was a long time coming for me to get back out on the field,” Bruin said in the post-match press conference. “It was a little over 13 months. It was a long time. My first objective was to complete my first pass – that’s what I wanted to do – and then to get in the box on the end of some crosses.”

Back in January, Bruin spoke with about how his first serious injury suffered during his illustrious career had lit a new fire in him. A stalwart striker with over 100 combined goals and assists since entering the league in 2011, Bruin’s forced time on the sidelines helped him gain a new appreciation for his craft.

“I think I’ve just gotten smarter with how I’m going to play when I come back,” he said. “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.”

Bruin, who hadn't played since a road game against the Montreal Impact on June 5, 2019, backed up that talk with a picture-perfect goal into the top corner within five minutes of entering the match against LAFC last night, halving Seattle’s deficit and handing the team a desperately needed lifeline.

It was clear that Bruin’s time on the training pitch, working on his runs and finishing during his injury rehab, had been beneficial as he nearly scored another goal six minutes later with a clever, anticipatory run to the back post.

“[Joevin Jones] put a great ball in and I re-directed it in,” said Bruin. “I almost got a second one on the back post again. If that goes in, it’s a whole different game. But, unfortunately it didn’t. I was just happy to get back out on the field and play the game that I love.”

A consummate professional and fierce competitor, Bruin is eager to get back on the pitch again. It’s unclear what will come next – the hope is for a condensed regular season to start up after the MLS is Back Tournament – but no matter, Bruin will be ready.

“It’s just one goal, and unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted to advance in the tournament. But we’ll learn from our mistakes and get better from it.”