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You Be The GM: Should Danny Cruz Stay Or Go?

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The You Be The GM series shifts to the backups who may still be around after the MLS Expansion Draft. These are the players with cult followings and niche capabilities. Do they have enough to make the team?

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Full disclosure: I am currently drinking bourbon as I type. I believe writing on the topic of Danny Cruz commands some blurring of reality. He might just be the most polarizing player on the Philadelphia Union and therefore defies a true singular perspective. When he comes onto the field he tends to be cheered loudly by the crowd; I believe because he is the essence of hustle and effort. He certainly, on multiple occasions, has lifted the energy of the team through his sheer commitment to make something happen. But at the same time the soccer "intelligenstia" bemoans his actual skill with the ball. He lacks a certain creativity. He lacks exceptional vision, and he lacks that final touch in the moment of truth. Oh, and he's a known flopper. Sometimes it works and fans love the effort. Sometimes he looks foolish.

So exactly how much value does Danny Cruz add? It is a tough question to untangle. [Sip]

Danny Cruz is unlikely to be protected in the upcoming expansion draft. Let's assume for the sake of argument that he also goes undrafted by Orlando or NYCFC. The question will then be, do the Union want him back? There was some murmuring this past season that Danny Cruz was improved and having a solid year. Let's take a look at the stats.

Danny Cruz Whoscored.com Stats
Games Minutes Goals Assists Shooting % Key Passes/Gm Pass % Tackles/Gm Clear/Gm Rating
2014 26 1,379 3 1 8.9% 0.5 82% 0.9 0.1 6.58
2013 32 2,229 3 2 5.2% 0.7 80% 0.9 0.3 6.64

Danny Cruz' minutes declined in 2014 and his production was similar to 2013. His shooting percentage and pass completion percentage were up slightly. His defensive stats were similar and his whoscored rating dropped a touch. All in all he was roughly the same player in 2014 as he was in 2013 according to the data. Danny Cruz was ranked 225th out of 272 MLS players that played at least 17 games by whoscored.com.

Danny was used as both a right winger and left winger. He was notably better on the right side as these stats point out:

Games Minutes Goals Assists Shooting % Key Passes/Gm Pass %
Left Side 5 321 0 0 0% 0.4 76%
Right Side 11 791 2 1 10% 0.8 81%

These stats only reflect games in which Cruz started on either the right or left. He was also a substitute in 10 games and those stats are not reflected here. He was clearly more comfortable on the right wing, completing a higher percentage of passes, doubling his key passes per game, and scoring both of his goals as a starter.

If Cruz were to return to the Union he projects as a backup to both Le Toux and Wenger on the wings. He made a base salary of $125K in 2014, which is reasonable for a backup. Its worth noting that the Union do not boast a collection of wingers ready to take backup roles outside of Cruz. But as Le Toux climbs up in age, it would be prudent to add depth to the wings.

The question is now in the hands of the fans. Should Danny Cruz be on the roster in 2015?

I just took my last sip of bourbon. Reality is sufficiently blurred. Which side of the Danny Cruz legend do you subscribe to? I'm seeing a 50/50 split here....

Previous You Be The GM votes:

Ethan White

Pedro Ribeiro

Andrew Wenger

Goalkeepers

Brian Carroll

Conor Casey

Brian Brown

Maurice Edu

Amobi Okugo