Union's Cruz to see off army dad ahead of Afghanistan tour

Danny Cruz

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It's not every day that Twitter can dig a pit into users' stomachs like it did on Thursday when the following tweet came through from Philadelphia Union midfielder Danny Cruz:

It came out of the blue for Cruz and his siblings, whose grandfather was also in the military.

"I didn't think it would happen at all, not after going four other times," Cruz told MLSsoccer.com on Friday from Houston. "To have your father go over there again in not-so-safe circumstances is eye-opening.

"I just got off the phone with my dad and it's war. It's never easy for families," continued Cruz. "I felt when he called me, he was a little down because any time your parents are going to do something like that, it's never easy."

You can't blame the 22-year-old Cruz from being a bit gutted by the news. His dad, who also served in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, hadn't been called on a tour of duty since Cruz was in high school, a time that Cruz's dad spent mainly overseas.

Today, Cruz's father is currently an active duty reservist in the army and it's his full-time job in Chicago, where he recently watched his son play for the Union on their last trip to Toyota Park, a 3-1 win over the Fire on Oct. 3. You want more details about Cruz's dad? Tough. Top secret stuff.

"I can't talk a lot about it and what he does," Cruz said.

What we do know is the letter Cruz's dad received merely puts him on notice that he will be going overseas. Next week, he'll find out more details about his assignment and the expectation is that he'll be gone from January to November of 2013.

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"It's something I think about and, for me, I'm very lucky to do what I get to do for a living and I get to do it because of guys like him," said Cruz, who played for US youth national teams in the past. "It's not something I take for granted."

Turns out that there are many others who don't take it for granted. In fact, since that tweet, Cruz has received more than 100 messages from former teammates, front office staff and fans from each of the MLS clubs for which he has played, including the Sons of Ben supporters group in Philadelphia.

"It was remarkable," Cruz said. "The Sons of Ben have already reached out to me about creating care packages and teammates have been supportive in ways I knew they would. But it was amazing to see it. Every person needs it."

And for those fans still wanting to send in their best wishes to Cruz's dad, he's still collecting all the messages before printing out and sharing with his dad when he sees him on Dec. 20 in Arizona "to show people care."

And if there's anything that Cruz hopes other take away from his dad's newest tour of duty, it's a message of service.

"He always tells me I get to influence people's lives every day and I'm very big when it comes to giving back," Cruz said. "I try to do everything I can to give back to the fans and he doesn't fail to remind me I'm in the position I am for a reason and I'm fortunate to do what I do."