Dynamo deal Cruz to free up cap space for future move

Rodger Espinoza and Danny Cruz

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In sports, many moves are made with an eye toward the future. That was the case with the Houston Dynamo on Friday afternoon.

Houston completed a trade to send right winger Danny Cruz to D.C. United in return for allocation money. Cruz, who started for the Dynamo in last November’s MLS Cup final, had been locked in contract negotiations with the Dynamo since the end of the season. With a resolution unlikely, Houston pulled the trigger on a deal they believe will be beneficial to all involved.

“In my opinion, D.C. gets a player that I think will help them and we got some allocation money that will help us with some plans for the near future,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com on Friday afternoon. “All around, I think it’s a deal that works out for everyone.”

The move provides the club with some latitude as they look to improve their club across the board for 2012. One position of focus has been right wing, the spot Cruz held.

Houston currently has Colin Clark and Je-Vaughn Watson as players who can contribute on the right flank. Re-signing Cruz would have added to their ranks but it also would have created a log jam if the club can follow through on bringing in another option on the right side.

“We’ve got a couple players at right wing that we’re looking at very closely that would be foreign signings,” Canetti said. “This move opens up a roster spot for us to fill in that area and also provides us with some much-needed salary relief that will clear the way for a secondary move.”

In Cruz, the Dynamo traded a young player who started 13 games in 2011 plus all four in the MLS Cup Playoffs. And while he looked to round into form late in the season, Cruz’s contract situation became a sticking point after the season.

Drafted as a Generation adidas member in 2008, Cruz graduated from that contract in 2011, meaning his salary was set to count toward the salary cap in 2012. Houston declined his option after the season, leaving him exposed to the Montreal Impact in the Expansion Draft.

After going unselected, Cruz and the Dynamo were left to hammer out a new deal. The club and Cruz discussed a new contract as 2011 came to a close, but the sides struggled to find a middle ground, ultimately leading to Friday’s deal.

“I wish Danny well at D.C. United,” Canetti said. “He’s an excellent person and a classy individual and hopefully he finds success at D.C.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.