Will Bruin gave himself the luxury of not needing a full, 90-minute performance on Saturday. Perhaps that’s why his Player of the Week candidacy became a bit overshadowed. With two goals and an assist in the first 23 minutes against visiting New England, Bruin’s early dominance meant the Dynamo could click it into neutral for the rest of the game, secure in the knowledge their opening night’s work was done. As the final hour-plus ticked away and the Revolution unable to carve a way back into the match, it was easy to forget what the Dancing Bear had done to turn the game.
Bruins’ contributions started in the second minute, with Jose Goncalves playing a big part. Last season’s Defender of the Year overran a cross from Kofi Sarkodie, giving Bruin all the time he needed to measure his trapped ball as it fell back to the ground. Hitting it square on the laces of his right boot, Bruin blasted Houston in front minutes into the season, providing 16-yard finish that overshadowed the defense’s mistakes on the goal.
Fourteen minutes later, it was less the finish than the effort, though the touch a diving Bruin put on Corey Ashe’s cross was noteworthy, too. After the Houston left back forced a turnover at the edge of the attacking third, Bruin went on a looping far post run that left him wide open for his teammate’s cross. Diving into a slide in the six-yard box, Bruin had his second of the season, volleying past Bobby Shuttleworth to give Houston a 2-0 lead.
In the 23rd minute, the former Indiana Hoosier started filling up another column, finding an oncoming Boniek Garcia to record an assist on the night’s third goal. Houston would go on to win, 4-0.
No doubt about it, this is a case based on the numbers, but the underlying play is what distinguishes Bruin’s candidace from fellow two-goal scorers Kenny Miller and Federico Higuaín. Each of those creators scored from the spot, on penalties they didn’t earn themselves. Each added goals late, when their teams appeared in control of the match. Bruin was the only one of the trio to add an assist.
And there were other, non-goal scorers who made their case this week, most notably Nick Rimando, whose penalty kick save in the 92nd minute in Los Angeles preserved a win for Real Salt Lake. Had Robbie Keane not nailed the post with a first half chance, one made possible by a bad Rimando giveaway, the RSL veteran probably wouldn’t have won the league’s award. Thankfully for the U.S. international, Keane was having a rare off night. Rimando’s night was amazing but not unblemished.
For us, Bruin was Week 1’s best, providing a performance that will give Houston hope. After a season in which chances created too often became opportunities lost, a more efficient Dancing Bear is ready to tackle the 2014 campaign.
|PST Award||MLS Award|
|Week 1||Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo
2g, 1a vs. New England
|Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
8 saves, PK save at LA