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Raves: Danny Cruz

Photo: Michael Long

If hard work and tenacity showed up on the score sheet, Danny Cruz would be a Golden Boot winner.

One of the newer faces on the Union, Cruz’s work rate and pace have endeared him to the Blue and Gold faithful. Before his recent toe injury, Cruz was making life miserable for fullbacks in MLS. No play is ever dead if Danny if is around. He will go at defenses all game, and gladly plays the role of pest.

The powerfully built Cruz is the second acquisition in the John Hackworth era, the first being the injured-for-most-of-the-year Backary Soumare. But while the Sourmare move was in the making when Peter Nowak was still running things, the Cruz move was all Hackworth’s. Like many players of a certain age in MLS, Cruz had been coached by Hackworth in the national team set up. And actually getting a living, breathing human being in return for Lionard Pajoy is a master stroke all by itself. Cruz hasn’t replaced Pajoy’s goals yet, but he certainly fits better with the up-tempo style the Union is trying to play.

Cruz’s attitude on and off the field is hard to question. When listening to the recent KYW Philly Soccer Show interview of Danny, you really take away a sense that Cruz was acquired for what he can bring to a locker room as well as the pitch. He’s got the look of a Philly player, for all the reasons stated above.

There is only one question mark hanging over Danny, his finishing. He came to the Union with just 5 goals in three plus seasons. His only tally to date for the Union is a penalty in a 3-2 loss to Columbus. Before his injury, his chances seemed to be growing in quality. He is a young, developing player, so time will tell if finishing becomes a part of his game.

The Union have been playing for next year for quite some time now. A lot of players are working hard for a spot on next year’s roster. As Coach John Hackworth continues to build around the young core, Danny Cruz looks like he will be a large piece of future of the Philadelphia Union.

NOTE: This post was originally credited to Ed Farnsworth erroneously. It was actually written by Greg Orlandini.


  1. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    God bless him, he works hard. But he really shouldn’t be a starter. He has no soccer sense or touch or skills at all.
    Now, every team has a spot for a player like Cruz, and he could be an awesome sub late in games, much like Hoppenot.
    I liked the move because atleast he is young and brings something to the team. But that something is best served from the bench late in games.

  2. Richie The Limey says:

    He is a very ‘American’ player. Watch enough high school and college soccer and you will see nine Danny Cruz playalikes on every team. The American player is very athletic, powerfully built, hustles to every single ball stretching and straining every sinew and fiber of their being to run out every play. They tackle very hard, and play tough, with a tremendous desire to win at all costs. They play the game at 100mph and chase after long balls, hoping to use their athletic ability to beat an inferior opponent.

    Unfortunately technique and cerebral football gets sacrificed on the altar of hustle. Who out there derided Pescadito because he was ‘lazy’? Come on, own up. There is so much more to the beautiful game than hustle and bustle and Danny Cruz unfortunately offers little else. We need more thinkers and creativity on out team. Not more running around.

  3. Richie the Limey says:

    If you think Pescadito was lazy then you know next to nothing about forward play. It is easy to spot if a player is huffing and puffing and running around a lot but it is tougher to see angles of running off the ball, how to lead a line when there is no penetration from midfield, and a whole host of subtle things a forward does for others.

    You could never call Danny Cruz lazy because all he does is run around. As in ALL he does is run around – he doesn’t play football. Pescadito was a classic number nine, poacher, fox-in-the-box type striker who was crafty and played with a lot of intelligence. It is difficult to spot if you don’t know what you are looking for.

    • Yes, it is tougher to see angles of running off the ball. That was something that Sebastien Le Toux was great at before Ruiz planted his butt in the center of the pitch, made comparatively few of those runs, and clogged up the lanes for everyone else.

      A good forward does the things you’re describing. Ruiz is a good finisher who was also lazy and a detriment to the team as a whole. There’s a reason he’s played for 7 teams since 2008. I guess none of those teams that let him go know about forward play either.

      • Richie The Limey says:

        He has probably played for a lot of teams because he is a douche who can’t get on with anyone. I still stand by his scoring record and what he actually did ON the pitch.

  4. He seems like a nice guy. Nothing to rave home about.

  5. The description of Danny Cruz as an “American” player is so very apt. I recall hearing a description given by a European coach after a World Cup game a LONG while ago. He stated that the Americans would be dangerous once they learned to play the game at less than 100% for a full ninety. The explanation that he gave was, as we have heard again and again, that a symphony is not just the notes, but the time between the notes. While the American team was then better conditioned than their opposition, and could run for the full time, that led to overly aggressive defending all over the field and led to easy breaks that a quick sprint by the opposition could exploit. I think that as I watch Danny’s ball chasing, and wonder if the coach still doesn’t have a point. By chasing, Danny forces an occasional misplay by a flustered opponent. At the same time, if he is not successful, he has played so as to to cause an opening where he had been, which can lead to a quick strike. I still love the aggression, and enjoy the in-your-face type of defending all over the field that the Union players, especially the American trained players, bring to the field. At the same time, it would be nice to see a shifting of gears every now and then, to see what would happen if they slowed it down a bit, and then shifted into gear quickly, to take advantage of some of the speed on the wings. I think that he was a great pickup, and would like to watch that aspect of his game develop.

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