Longtime Houston Dynamo star Will Bruin — a player who has made over 170 appearances in orange and has scored exactly 50 goals — was traded to reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle on Friday in exchange for General and Targeted Allocation Money. Bruin became the latest casualty of a comprehensive offseason revamp initiated in part by the signings of three Central American players.
Due to the midseason rise of Mauro Manotas and the signings of two promising forwards (Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis), Bruin’s place in the club was rendered moot. It’s not his age — he’s 27 — or any serious issue with his play, as evidenced by this thread:
Since 2011 Will Bruin has 55 xG and 16 xAssists.— Harrison Crow (@Harrison_Crow) December 23, 2016
Rather, it’s likely due to the additions of the players mentioned above as well as Bruin’s awkward fit in Wilmer Cabrera’s preferred passing-oriented system.
Matt Jordan, Chris Canetti, and the Dynamo organization’s continued investment in Honduran players — Elis, Quioto, Boniek Garcia, Luis Garrido, Jose Escalante, among others — creates an attacking chemistry into which Bruin is, obviously, not a natural fit.
The Dynamo could end up playing with a front six that looks like this next season:
Even if Bruin were to stay on the roster for next season, he’s not cracking this lineup; Manotas is the future at striker. Bruin is too good to sit on the bench — which is what he mostly did under Wade Barrett — and he deserves better than a minimal role behind a crew of younger, more dynamic players.
Compounding these difficulties is his role in the new manager’s projected system. It’s likely that Cabrera will go with a more attacking look and possession-oriented approach, which does not exactly suit Bruin’s strengths. He generally is not involved in build-up play and instead gets his goals from runs in the channels and opportunistic finishes.
The lack of a true central chance-creator in Houston always held him back, and although he still managed to carve out goals, a player like Nicolas Lodeiro could do a lot for Bruin.
His role in Seattle will differ from what it would have been with the Dynamo. A lot of it depends on Clint Dempsey’s health and availability, but most likely, he will be a direct replacement for overpriced, under-achieving Designated Player Nelson Valdez, who will likely be leaving sooner rather than later.
This means that Bruin will occasionally find a role in Seattle’s lineup — if he plays well enough, he could push Jordan Morris back to the wing and take over the center forward spot — and he could become a good attacking option off the bench.
It is clearly a good career move for the former US international, and it is a solid business deal for the Dynamo as well. After using TAM to sign Quioto, Elis, and center back Adolfo Machado over the past week, they could use some extra cash to fill out the many remaining positions of need, and getting rid of an unnecessary striker was the obvious next move.
The Dancing Bear was often a fan favorite in Houston, but his departure has been in the cards since he fell out of favor with Barrett’s coaching staff around the beginning of July. Despite his past successes in an orange jersey, the selling of Bruin turned out to be correct decision for everybody.