Will Bruin won’t be giving many thumbs up for the next several months, as it has been confirmed that the Sounders forward has a torn ACL.
“He does have an ACL tear of his right knee, that’s the official diagnosis,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told media after training on Thursday. “Surgery will come after they let the swelling go down and he will have surgery in early July. He is effectively done for some time.”
Bruin suffered the injury at practice on Wednesday when he collided with backup goalkeeper Brian Meredith. The play was routine and just a freak accident. Bruin immediately went down clutching his leg and had to be carted off the field.
Bruin, 29, had two goals this season, mostly coming off the bench but also getting spot starts due to injuries. He has 22 goals since joining the Sounders in 2017 and is sixth among current players in goals scored. Now, ironically, it is Bruin who will miss time. Where that leaves the Sounders is still up in the air.
“We’ll forge on, we have got to keep going,” Schmetzer said. “We will miss him, but this group, this franchise, this team has overcome serious injuries before, and we will have to do it again.”
Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris are still away on international duty and both are unlikely to be back by Seattle’s June 29th contest against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The only other forward currently on the roster is 17 year old Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez. He has zero minutes with the first team so far this season, or ever for that matter, since signing on May 1. Immediately throwing him into the fire of being the lone forward is a risky gamble, but one Schmetzer may be forced to make.
Another possibility is Tacoma Defiance forward Justin Dhillon, who just happened to be at practice when Bruin went down (no, I’m not implying some clandestine plot from Dhillon). Dhillon, 24, has six goals for Tacoma this season and is their leading scorer. Ocampo-Chavez may have the higher ceiling, but Dhillon could be more ready to immediately slot into an interim role. The biggest issue, however, is that it’s unclear if Dhillon could be signed to the first team before the July 9 transfer window. By that time, Ruidiaz could be back, negating the need for Dhillon for anything more than depth.
There’s also the chance that the Sounders could look outside the organization, making a trade within MLS or signing a player abroad who they wouldn’t have to wait until the transfer window to bring over. Of course, General Manager Garth Lagerway and the rest of the team aren’t going to panic and force a move they won’t be happy with long term. We’ll see how things progress over the next couple weeks.