Recent Dallas signing Cruz already comfy at new club

Daniel Cruz, FC Dallas

Photo Credit: 
FC Dallas

FRISCO, Texas — Though he's only logged a few minutes on the pitch since joining FC Dallas on Aug. 4, Colombian midfielder Daniel Cruz smiles and chats to his fellow teammates as though he has been in North Texas for quite some time.

In his first week as a member of FC Dallas, Cruz traveled with the team to California and played the final 18 minutes in Dallas’ 3-1 loss to the league-leading LA Galaxy in the first of what Cruz says he hopes will be many more games in an FC Dallas uniform.  

“I talk with everyone, not just the Colombians,” the 30-year-old veteran said. “[I talk] with the American people — they treat me very well. The truth is, I am very happy to be here. I think it’s a great decision to come here.”

During his brief time on the field Saturday night, Cruz displayed the vision, comfort on the ball and creativity that inspired legendary Dutch side Ajax to sign him at the tender age of 17.

“He’s a player that we are very happy to sign,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “We had followed him when he was in Belgium. He was an interesting player because he was Colombian and his name had come up to us before.”

Interestingly, while Hyndman and his staff scouted Cruz as his contract with Belgian Pro League side Beerschot AC expired this May, the player was already following MLS. Cruz — whose father played professionally and taught him the game at a young age in Cali, Colombia — has roots in American culture that date back to his childhood.

“I always followed it because I was in an American school,” he said. “So I knew a little bit of the American material and I liked it.”

Cruz added that he had several friends come to the United States for college and they only had good things to say. Since he turned pro 13 years ago when an Ajax agent scouted him with América de Cali, Cruz has had the opportunity to pick up several languages including English, Dutch, French and Portuguese.

On a team with four Brazilians, one Honduran and two other Colombians that he didn’t previously know, Cruz is bound to fit a niche in the locker room.

“We have a great locker room and that is a result of the team being united on the field and fighting for each other,” he said.

Locker-room unity and experience aside, now comes the hard part for the versatile Cruz: match fitness.

“The last game that I played was on May 8,” he admitted. “I hope that I am 100 percent in three or four weeks. The difficult thing for me is the [heat] difference. It’s very difficult.”

When Cruz can reach the required fitness level, though, it's likely he’ll be a valuable asset to FC Dallas as they seek their first MLS Cup.

“I have understood that this team has never won a championship [MLS Cup] and I would like to be a apart of that.”

Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner