It only took 16 minutes for Will Bruin to get off the mark in the 2013 Major League Soccer playoffs. He finished off a neat interchange with Ricardo Clark on top of the Montreal Impact penalty area to score what ended up being the game-winning goal.
Late on, he sealed the 3-0 win by winning two one-on-one battles in quick succession, out-running Matteo Ferrari to a loose ball and cutting back on Jeb Brovsky before calmly slotting the ball past Troy Perkins in goal. The Dynamo cruised past Montreal in the Eastern Conference play-in game on Thursday, setting up a matchup with the Supporters’ Shield-winning New York Red Bulls.
Heading into the playoffs, Bruin hadn’t scored since Sept. 28 against the New England Revolution, which was five league games ago. The Dynamo missed him down the stretch but did just enough to get into the playoffs without Bruin scoring, hoping he would pick his momentum back up in the playoffs.
And did he ever.
Helped by a porous Impact back line and three red cards, Bruin ended the match with four shots on target and lingered around the Montreal penalty area all night, dropping into midfield sporadically to find the ball at his feet.
Oscar Boniek García also had a good game on the right flank, drawing and finishing a first-half penalty on the dribble through the middle of the field. Ricardo Clark also looked good in attack, pushing forward from his traditional holding role to assist the first goal and create multiple other opportunities.
On the other side of the field, it’s difficult to pick out any standout performances. Three of the 14 players who saw the field ended up leaving early with red cards, and the rest never got any sort of rhythm going.
Houston’s performance was the kind of dominance that turns a play-in game into a momentum creator. Playing an extra game can be a burden on players’ legs, but it can also begin a run that carries a team to the MLS Cup final — such as the run Houston made last year.
Friday brings us the beginning of the Bundesliga season, meaning every major league will have started its season.
There are American players throughout Europe worth watching, many of them well-established with their clubs. We know plenty of Danny Williams at Reading, of Fabian Johnson at Borussia Monchengladbach, and Geoff Cameron at Stoke City.
But what about the young crowd, the ones we know a bit less about? Let’s call the group Americans under the age of 23, with 10 caps or less. We quizzed our ProSoccerTalk staff, weighted the rankings according to power, and wound up with 15 names from MLS to the PL.
Players were given one point for each mention, and a corresponding value to whether they were ranked first (10 points) or tenth (1 point) by a given writer.
PST’s Top 15 USMNT prospects
15. Jerome Kiesewetter, Fortuna Dusseldorf (1)
The twice-capped forward has six goals in 16 appearances for the U-23 side, and just moved to a new 2.Bundesliga home.
14. Joe Gyau, Borussia Dortmund (1)
The 23-year-old was about as exciting a prospect as any when he tore his meniscus against Ecuador. Now, he’s just getting back on the pitch and a loan may be on the cards.
13. Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew (3)
Of players aged 23 or younger, only one has had a better overall season than Trapp. The 23-year-old just fits on our list, and needs to find another level, but he’s going to be solid at worst.
12. Walker Zimmerman, FC Dallas (4)
The seventh-overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the big Georgian has been outstanding this season.
11. Erik Palmer-Brown, Sporting KC/Porto B (5)
It’s easy to forget about EPB, the 6-foot-1 center back who left SKC on loan in February, but he’s gone 90 minutes in every match since making his Porto B debut in March. Juventus bid $1 million for Palmer-Brown when he was still 16, and they know a thing or two about scouting kids.
10. Rubio Rubin, FC Utrecht (6)
The 20-year-old started Utrecht’s first two matches of the season as a center forward after foot surgery cost him much of 2015-16. No one should ignore his 3 goal, 6 assist season the previous season.
9. Emerson Hyndman, AFC Bournemouth (12)
The 20-year-old just moved to the Premier League, and has yet to debut after playing out his contract with Fulham in hopes of greener pastures.
We don’t have to really say anything, do we? The 17-year-old Pennsylvania kid has made an impact at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and could be set for a loan now that BVB has added Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, and Ousmane Dembele.
It’s hard for some teams to assess at this point, with players coming off busy summers, and adapting to new leagues, coaches and roles. Some teams, like Hull City, are off to a dream start but surely also no illusions. Others, like Arsenal, know things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem after a 1-point start to the campaign.
Although things are indeed bad. Just not relegation bad.
Let’s wait no more…
Arsenal — I’m starting to consider that Arsene Wenger‘s defensive preparations involve using a club to whack at his defenders’ bodies. Depth in the back is key, and Arsenal sure could use that high-profile, effective forward they’ve needed for a long, long while.
Bournemouth — In a pretty good spot now, but an added defender capable of playing any position on the back line is not a bad idea.
Burnley — While the addition of Steven Defour is fantastic, another weapon like him wouldn’t be bad. Honestly, it’s too bad Danny Ings didn’t stick around!
Chelsea — Defensive depth in the center park would be useful. The long time link with Napoli center back Koulibaly isn’t going anywhere.
Watford — Likely done, though another defender wouldn’t hurt.
West Bromwich Albion — Tony Pulis has made a couple very good pick-ups in underrated QPR man Matty Phillips and Everton loanee Brendan Galloway. That said, he’d love to get better at every spot on the pitch. Anything is possible if the bosses open their wallets.
West Ham United — A striker would help with injuries to Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew. Otherwise, the Irons are sneaky deep everywhere.