Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Following in the footsteps of teammate Brad Davis and head coach Dominic Kinnear, the Houston Dynamo’s Will Bruin is set to make a name for himself on a national stage.
The 23-year-old forward was included on the 23-man United States Men’s National Team roster for the 2013 Gold Cup, where he’ll have the opportunity to make his first competitive appearance in the red, white, and blue. Bruin made his first appearance for the USMNT last January, coming off the bench in a friendly match against Canada.
The all-important phone call came last Monday, but it wasn’t USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that wanted to speak with Bruin.
“Dom (Kinnear) actually called me first and informed me, so I was pretty excited about that,” Bruin told SBI. “About 10 minutes later Jurgen (Klinsmann) called. I’m just excited to get going.”
The news of his call-up to the had to be a boost to Bruin, who is in a rare scoring slump in the middle of his third Major League Soccer season with the Dynamo. The St. Louis native, who last year scored 16 times, hasn’t scored since May 8, when he bagged a brace against D.C. United.
Considering his importance to the team, it might not be a coincidence that since the D.C. United game, the Dynamo haven’t recorded a single win, picking up just three points in their last seven matches (the Dynamo were shut-out on Saturday in a 2-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls).
“The life of a forward is always mindset and playing on confidence, knowing when you’re struggling,” said Bruin, who has scored four goals and added four assists in 16 MLS games this season. “I’ve just got to stay true to myself. I think my first touch has gotten better (since January), but I’ve got to get that hunger in the box to get back on the score sheet.”
Despite the frustrating run of games, Bruin has the backing of not just Klinsmann but also Kinnear, who believes his star forward can prove his worth for the national team.
“I hope he goes in and gets a chance to play,” the Dynamo head coach said to SBI. “I think he’s going to do well. He’s a pretty smart guy. He’s getting better, he makes good runs, and what more can you ask from forwards? He’s very unselfish with his work too.
“By all accounts he had a good January camp. When you look at him, he’s gotten better every year and if there’s a chance to look at players in this Gold Cup I certainly back looking at him.”
Of the five forwards listed in the U.S. Gold Cup squad, Bruin faces stiff competition for playing time from a stable of forwards that includes Herculez Gomez, Chris Wondolowski, Jack McInerney and Landon Donovan.
“I like competition,” Bruin said. “Going into camp not knowing anything (who will start) brings out the best in everybody, and I’m excited to go in and try and battle for a spot.”
At last January’s national team camp, Klinsmann liked what he saw from Bruin. After that camp, the U.S. head coach called Bruin a “team player” and a “great finisher,” and gave him his first cap in the 74th minute of the USMNT’s 0-0 draw with Canada.
The Gold Cup selection is just another step on the ladder for Bruin, who three years ago was heading into his junior year at Indiana University with 15 goals to his name in his first two seasons. That year, the 6-foot-2 inch forward bagged 18 goals for the Hoosiers, earning him All American status and being named a Hermann Trophy finalist, before jumping to MLS that winter as the Dynamo’s first selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
Bruin is doing his best to stay grounded and continue to grow as a player, maybe carving out a spot for his own on the national team like he has done at the club and collegiate levels.
“I’m still taking it in as it goes along, taking things day by day,” Bruin said. “I’m trying not to worry about things I can’t control down the road.”