PORTLAND, Ore. – Sunday’s comeback loss to the Portland Timbers was one of the more aggravating in recent memory for the Houston Dynamo.
For Will Bruin, there was little solace in scoring his fourth goal of 2016, his 50th in MLS regular-season play and first since his brace vs. New York in the third match of the season.
“It’s good to know that it was my 50th. But the way I look at it, we didn’t get any points,” Bruin said following the 3-2 defeat. The Indiana University product scored 21 goals in 60 appearances in the previous two regular seasons. His 46 goals between 2011 and 2015 were sixth-most in MLS during that span.
Bruin said he lost track of how many games he had gone without a goal – officially it was 11, though that includes a one-minute appearance off the bench – but figured it was the longest drought of his career. Perhaps Portland was the opponent he needed to see: Bruin has scored in four of his last five games against the Timbers.
Interim Houston coach Wade Barrett said he was glad to see Bruin score.
“I thought Will put in an incredible performance,” Barrett said. “He works hard against the ball. He helps lead the line, helps make good decisions on when we press and when we don’t. And he got a deserved goal today.”
It was a striker’s goal, as Bruin ran onto a looped ball into the penalty area from left winger Boniek García, slipping behind Nat Borchers and around Liam Ridgewell to slot the ball past Jake Gleeson. He credited his chemistry with García for the play.
“When [Boniek] cut inside I knew he was going to do a little chip over,” Bruin said. “He played it perfectly weighted and I was just waiting on the contact from Ridgewell so I could spin him. I just wanted to make sure I finished it off.”
That the Dynamo didn’t finish off the Timbers was much more frustrating than any relief that came from breaking his personal scoring drought, Bruin said. Still, he noted that goals sometimes come in bunches – and confident forwards are more dangerous.
“After that goal, I was getting more involved offensively and getting more chances,” Bruin said. “That’s the way I know I can play and that’s the way I need to play to give us the best opportunity to get points.”
Despite the loss, Houston leave Portland headed in a positive direction – and playing a style he enjoys.
“I definitely see a lot more hard-nosed tackling, swarming around the ball, getting chances,” Bruin said.
“This game, the second half got too open. We shouldn’t have let it go back and forth when we had a 2-nothing lead. Still, I think it’s Wade’s fourth game in charge and we’ve made huge steps forward defending as a group.”