Will Bruin steps up when called upon to help Seattle Sounders steal crucial point in Western Conference race

He may not be the manager anymore, but the Seattle Sounders can thank former Head Coach Alan Hinton for their stoppage-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field on Thursday.

Forward Will Bruin slotted home the goal off a deflection from a corner kick in a play that Hinton had passed along to current Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. Seattle had a player named Peter Ward, a small striker in the 1980s, and Hinton would always tell Ward to fade to the back post on corners in the hope that the ball would be redirected there. And on Thursday, Bruin did just that to steal a point in dramatic fashion.

“Alan always used to say that there were three or four goals a year from that position,” said Schmetzer.

The goal was a big one for the Sounders, who remain atop the Western Conference standings, even on points with the Timbers but holding a better goal differential and a match in hand. The two longtime Cascadia rivals are jockeying for Western Conference supremacy yet again, and Thursday’s result could very well determine the host of a potential MLS Cup Playoffs match in a few weeks.

Bruin’s tally was also monumental for him on a personal level. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury midway through last season and finally and deservedly got his name on the score sheet.

“It’s good to get that one off my back,” said Bruin. “I gotta make it dramatic. I believe that was my first full 90, so that’s why I get frustrated sometimes when I sub out because I know there’s always a chance at the very end.”

Bruin had started the last four matches while Raúl Ruidíaz was away with Peru on international duty. And when the Sounders needed a big play, Bruin delivered, like he has 71 times in his MLS career.

“I’m very, very, very pleased for Will Bruin,” said Schmetzer. “He deserved it because he’s been working his butt off. The Seattle Sounders never give up. That’s one of the trademarks that makes us a championship team.

“Will embodies all of those things,” Schmetzer continued. “He doesn’t give up, he trains hard, he works hard. For him to score, for the team to snatch a point at the end, it’s something you can actually build momentum on, both individually for Will and for the squad.”