Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Danny Cruz

Photo: Mike Long

Let’s see a show of hands: Who saw that coming?

Okay, Coach Hackworth, we see you, you can put your hand down. Anyone else? No? Nobody?

We here at PSP have been critical of Danny Cruz, pointing to a number of perceived flaws in past games this season. The first half of Saturday’s game would have provided more fodder, too, as Cruz consistently found himself in good positions only to fail to provide a quality final ball.

But then, Super Danny showed up.

Whatever was said in the locker room at halftime, Cruz came out ready to prove his doubters wrong. In the span of 88 seconds, Cruz scored not one but two absolute rockets on the half-volley. In both cases, his first touch to steady the ball was deft, and the finishes themselves—especially that second one—were of the highest caliber.

The cynics will say that his excellent goals on Saturday will only further obscure the obvious: that there are better options on the Union bench for Cruz’s starting spot. His hustle, desire and commitment have never been questioned, but Saturday’s two goals equaled his goal output from the last two seasons combined, and expecting him to replicate that performance is probably unreasonable.

At the same time, what’s been most frustrating about Danny Cruz is that he’s consistently been in good positions, only for a heavy touch or a poor cross to let him down. If Cruz can find a way to harness and control his energy—as he did to devastating effect against Seattle—then not only might he score a handful more goals this season, he could set up more goals for his teammates, and so turn his direct running into the real threat that the coaching staff believes he is capable of.

If the Danny Cruz we saw on Saturday shows up for the rest of the season, he more than deserves that starting spot. It’s up to him to make his doubters eat crow. For now, Cruz has given all of us a delicious appetizer.

And for that, he’s PSP’s Player of the Week.



  1. Two great goals for danny cruz. I wish for many more from him but if hes to be a goal scoring threat and starter then we have to accept no defense from him and that whoever plays behind him needs to cover A LOT of ground. I have never doubted his ability to show up and sometimes create greatness just his ability to do all the other things that go along with wing play. Danny if your out there we all want to be proven wrong. Please serve me my crow hot and steaming.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Credit for the goals (and the assists earlier this season). However, I see the same type of thing we saw with Pajoy last year. How many chances does he have to make a good play that he doesn’t? Plus, Cruz definitely shares some of the blame for the equalizer and for making it so much more difficult for Sheanon to go upfield this season.

    • He may indeed be a value at his salary for a team who needs or can use his specific skill set and does not require a great game from him on a consistent basis. We don’t have the players around him to allow for a player in our midfield (perhaps at striker) to spend time too far upfield and who adds little defensively which makes him a great player for us in this past game and against DC and a liability everywhere prior to and in between.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Still the most frustrating player on the team. Nice skill on both goals, but just doesn’t cut it for me as a starter. Would love to see him as the first or second sub every game.

  4. The two goals were well taken, but I can’t help but think that if he had executed a couple of chances in the first half, the Union would have won the game. He’s still frustratingly inconsistent, but it’s easy to forget he just turned 23.
    If he’s going to be on the field from here on out, hopefully we can get similar performances from DC44.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I feel like everything that you just said could easily be applied to Michael Farfan. The diference being that Farfan has zero points.

      • +1. I was thinking the same thing. Not big on Cruz, but as of right now he’s the only midfielder to contribute offensively

      • Yeah, it’s interesting since Marfan “looks the part” more than Cruz, but his statistical output has been much worse. Marfan has looked pretty good the last two weeks so hopefully the goals/assists will come.
        I think the big switch that needs to happen is Kleberson for Keon. Keon doesn’t seem to combine well with the other midfielders…or anyone for that matter.

  5. I have zero issue with a guy that actually has his hustle and urgency to get around someone to provide chances. And he does track back on defense extremely well (a la DeMarcus Beasely). Up through last night, he was tied with Graham Zusi for points from Midfield (2 Goals, 2 Assists) in MLS. For everyone that complains about him, we don’t get that same type of production out of Mike Farfan on the opposite wing. How does he get a pass! Because he has fancy moves? Seriously, I don’t get the animus for someone who clearly puts a ton of pressure on the opposing wing/defender. I would love to see the stat for creating chances or getting to the end line to attempt a cross compared to the left wing.
    A more pressing need is to get Keon Daniel out of the starting line up. How does he get to play like shit for 20min and he gets a pass from PSP every game? He had two inbelievablely shitty passes at the start of the game. Hiw is he better than Kleberson? He is a negative, non-offensive attacking mid in Hackworth’s scheme, and he can’t penetrate with his passing?!? Seriosly??? Why don’t you guys ask about it at the Hackworth Press conference.
    Or how about Ray Gaddis having zero left leg to be able to cross when he overlaps? He has to cut back to his right. How soon will teams adjust to not let him cut back? He has been suspect for weeks, and this game further highlighted the need for Garfan to come back in starting lineup. By the way, the Union have given up the most goals in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully Soumare comes in and crushed it this week and makes Hackworth eat crow.

    • Brian- I cannot agree more with the issue of Gaddis on the left. I am sure that I am sounding like a broken record here, but the absence of a left foot for him hurts on both his overlaps and his inability to clear the ball with confidence on that side of the field. He is young, he is apparently a good teammate and certainly doesn’t strike me as a slacker on the field. If even a broken-down old fullback like me can pick up that I can simply give him the sideline and wait for help until he goes to cut back to the right, why is that a sensible use of him on that side of the field?

      • The Black Hand says:

        I feel that the Gaddis issue has more to do with getting him on the pitch. I agree with Hackworth, on this ONE issue. Gaddis is very talented and needs to be played. If it were my call, I would swap he and Williams. (Farfan and Cruz/Gabe would be swapped accordingly.)
        I don’t see Gabe having enough upside to justify putting Gaddis on the bench and I think that Williams would be a better back. Gabe is not an awesome LB. I prefer having him as a midfield option.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Preach on Brian!

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Someone did ask about Keon vs. Kleberson at last week’s news conference, so I didn’t have to. (I asked about Keon playing deep in his own half instead.) Hack said very clearly that Kleberson hasn’t played a full 90 in a very long time, and that’s a big deal. We don’t have to ask Hack about Gaddis being weak on his left foot, because it’s so obvious. So we simply write it.

      When you’re in a news conference like these, you ask these questions because you want to know the answer. You don’t ask them so you can basically say, “Why does (insert player) suck so much and why do you play him?”

      • scottymac says:

        How about this week we try that strategy?

        Why does Keon get starting minutes?

        With 3 matches in 8 days, will you rest MacMath? Please rest him? Please?!?!

        What does Roger Torres need to do to see the pitch? Sit in front of Soumare on the bench?

        The summer transfer window opens in 60 days. How you feeling about LB now? Remember the draft? What would you have done differently?

        Can you hear the outcry today for when you start Albright instead of Soumare against the Fire?

        Any of these questions would be great. No more softballs.

      • I get that Hackworth wants Kleberson to reach full fitness, but not even using him as a sub doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially if they want him to get match fitness.
        I’m shocked (well, not really) Hackworth didn’t sub Kleberson into the Seattle game. He must have forgotten his impact during the Toronto game.

  6. I would be more than happy to eat crow if wrong, but I would place my wager that this was a one game anomaly that will not be replicated anytime soon, if ever.

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