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2014 Philadelphia Union Player Review: Danny Cruz

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The Union season would not have been nearly as fun without Danny Cruz, but could it have been better?

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Summary

Avoiding Danny Cruz is like avoiding taxes, its not going to happen barring a miracle. The ever-stumbling, face-paced, heat-seeking missile that is Danny Cruz will always be in the mind of Union fans, for both good and bad reasons. There certainly wasn't much love for the speedy winger who routinely leaves everything on the field, including himself.

Now to be fair, Danny performed much better than he did the year prior and actually exceeded expectations. While on the other hand, expectations for Danny were never too high to begin with. Always the scapegoat, Danny Cruz diversified his repertoire of moves on the wing to two and somehow creating enough concern that he was able to take defenders on with somewhat ease.

What did he do right?

Danny Cruz, as mentioned before, increased his ability on the ball just enough to keep defenders guessing. He does have a remarkable pace and when used correctly he is a handful. Danny's value increases dramatically when he is used as a sub, able to attack tired defenders with his relentlessness. Occasionally producing a moment of brilliance, Danny did well in his typical bullet style play.

Cruz has become an integral part of the Union roster, whether us fans like it or not. There is no doubt that his hustle and pace are just about second to none in MLS. I would love to write about his ability on the ball, but quite frankly he hasn't earned it this season despite improved play.

What did he do wrong?

Where should I begin? The knocks on Cruz are well-documented and often quite venomous, but my issues with him go toward his attitude. I'm not the easiest on Cruz and I am sure the guy is a sweetheart off the field. I want to make it clear that I never wish a player ill-will. In regards to Danny, his attitude on the field is beyond hideous to watch. His admirable heart and hustle is often dangerous routinely leaving him eating grass and sometime conjuring danger for players on the other team. Cruz falling down once he receives the ball runs at about 2-1 odds if its that low. Typically, a sequence of Cruz getting the ball goes as follows:

Cruz receives the ball.

Cruz runs at a defender.

Cruz either:

  • Falls Down
  • Turns the ball over
  • Both

But this isn't even my concern with him. Danny Cruz is Danny Cruz. Whenever he does fall down, his actions post-fall are what really gets under my skin. He becomes the needless whiner. Soccer is a sport, unfortunately, where players have a lot of liberty in conversation with officials. Danny takes full advantage to whine, complain, and speak his mind to an official whenever he is touched. Its one of the most annoying attributes to his character and its the worst thing he did in 2014. So please Danny, knock it off. The refs don't care that you've fallen over and you whining to them doesn't get them to like you. Move on and play the game.

Most Memorable Moment

As one of Hackworth's guys, Danny Cruz was always there for his coach whenever he was needed. As Hackworth's tenure came closer to ending, a night in Kansas City was all he needed to extend his stay. Danny Cruz made sure he was responsible for doing so. After Sporting battered the Union goal in the first half to no avail. The Union started out strong in the second as Cristian Maidana found himself played in behind the Kansas City defense, but at a tough angle.

Maidana had absolutely no options but shoot at a tough angle and his hard low shot was pushed right into the oncoming Danny Cruz who, much like a battering ram, smashed the ball into the back of the net. It was a signature Danny Cruz goal and the celebration after was the memorable part as, amid growing pressure from the media and fans, the team ran to embrace John Hackworth.

Future Expectations

Whether we like it or not, Danny is here to stay. Can we expect him to ever stop being relentless or maybe trading some of that heart and hustle in for some skill and decision making? Probably not. Where we can all have our issues with him, its just becoming another part of the Philadelphia Union experience. A season without him might be more productive, but it would never be nearly as fun. In the meantime, we expect the hashtag #CruzDown to be trending every game this upcoming season.