If you want to know the type of player Seattle Sounders forward Will Bruin is, look no further than Seattle’s training session on May 24.
Just 15 days after a foot injury that Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said would take “weeks” to heal, Bruin was itching to get back on the pitch.
While the rest of the team was training in preparation for Real Salt Lake, Bruin was right there on the touchline riding a stationary bike. He could have been in the gym inside Starfire Sports Complex. It probably would have been easier for the training staff because when he was done, that bike was loaded onto a cart to be taken back inside.
Schmetzer seemed impressed with his veteran forward.
“He came out here today instead of working out in the gym,” Schmetzer said. “He wanted to do his work, ride his bike on the field and be part of the group. That’s the kind of player you want to have on your team.”
That’s who Bruin is. He has that workman like attitude and work ethic that is hard to beat. He wants to be out there with his teammates.
Will Bruin silences the crowd with a goal for Seattle! pic.twitter.com/Mz2whMi5gM
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 10, 2018
It goes to show how he was brought up in his soccer life. A lot of that had to do with what he learned during three seasons at Indiana University.
“When you go from Indiana to the professional level, obviously the season is much longer, but it’s just soccer,” Bruin said. “You have to be more professional and I think I’ve kind of done a good job of being a professional because of the way I was brought up and the places I played.”
That attitude has been with him every step of the way, even when he was at De Smet High School in St. Louis. Because of that, he hasn’t been surprised with anything that has come his way. Coming from De Smet to Indiana in 2008, Bruin followed in the footsteps of IU stars like Chris Klein, Harry Weiss, Pat Noonan and Mike Ambersley, to name a few.
The pipeline from St. Louis to IU is real. It was then and it still is now with four players from that area on the current team. Bruin said it just seems like the thing to do when you’re from the Gateway City.
“I think the word in St. Louis is ‘go to Indiana,’” Bruin said. “To me it seems like that’s the thing to do. If you have the opportunity to go and play at the next level and play in college and have the opportunity to play at Indiana, you take it.”
And did Bruin ever take that opportunity and run with it. During his three seasons at IU, he scored 33 goals and had nine assists. His last season in Bloomington was 2010 where he was named an All American after an 18-goal season. He was the runner-up for the MAC Hermann Award, as well.
That season set him up well for his future. He signed a Generation adidas contract and was drafted 11th overall by the Houston Dynamo where he spent six seasons before coming to Seattle.
But Bruin wasn’t the only one prepared for a career in professional soccer while at Indiana. It seems that year in and year out IU players are entering the pro ranks. Two more Hoosiers joined MLS in 2018 with Mason Toye at Minnesota United and Grant Lillard playing for the Chicago Fire.
Hoosiers play against each other all the time in MLS. The Sounders recently faced off against Minnesota United. Toye vs. Bruin. For the Sounders forward, he had never met Toye. Still, they talked after the game and Bruin said it was like they had known each other already.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 19, 2018
It was because of the Indiana connection.
“Maybe you might not have even met them before, but there’s that unspoken – it’s a brotherhood, kind of,” Bruin said. “It’s like ‘alright, you’re a Hoosier.’ It’s like nothing, it’s easy to talk to them. You want the best for Hoosiers, except when you’re playing against them. It’s just one of those things.”
For most of the Hoosiers currently in the professional leagues, there’s been a common voice at Indiana who has helped them get there: Todd Yeagley.
For Bruin, he experienced Yeagley as a coach in three different capacities. In Bruin’s first season (2008) in Bloomington, Yeagley was an assistant under head coach Mike Freitag. In 2009, Yeagley left Bloomington and became the coach at Wisconsin. Bruin made sure to mention in the two matches in which the Hoosiers and Badgers faced off; Bruin scored a goal in each. Finally in 2010, Yeagley came back to Bloomington and became the head coach at IU.
Bruin had a lot of good things to say about Yeagley saying he always thought knew he had the personality and mind to eventually be a head coach.
“He’s one of those guys you want to play for,” Bruin said. “He holds his players to high standards, but at the same time he’ll come over and console you if you need it. He’s hard-nosed when he needs to be, but approachable or easy to talk to. He’s welcoming of all the alumni, whenever you need something, he’ll be the first to do it.”
And the tradition of excellence is something that has been there throughout the years of IU soccer. Excellence is demanded. Bruin knew that going in and it is something the players recognize.
“A lot of it comes with, you just look at the crest and see IU with eight stars, you better bring it or else you’re going to get weeded out,” Bruin said. “It’s a standard that’s been kept. Ever since Jerry started, it hasn’t dropped and you know that’s credit to the head coaches that have been there and the staff that’s been there along the way.”
Being eight years removed from the program, Bruin looks back at IU and sees a premier college soccer program and calls it a big family. He said he’s a bit removed from Bloomington and his three seasons there, but Bruin has turned himself into a solid player and has carved out a career in MLS that is now in season number eight.
A lot of that can be contributed to what he learned when he played at Indiana.
“On the field in the professional level, there’s not really someone to hold you accountable,” Bruin said. “You hold yourself accountable otherwise you get weeded out. I think that’s why you see so many Hoosiers around the league.”