Acquired: MLS rights obtained from Seattle Sounders FC in exchange for MLS rights to Andy Rose on 1/17/12
The path to the ranks of Major League Soccer for Leone Cruz was not a common one, but, in the end, the talented center back appears to have found a willing dance partner in Real Salt Lake the second time around. After failing to stick around with Seattle Sounders FC after being drafted by the Cascadia outfit in 2011, Cruz chose to finish up his studies at Southern Methodist University and stay soccer-sharp by playing in matches in the newly-resurrected Reserve League. Those stints included a pair of games in Claret-and-Cobalt last summer, when RSL reaffirmed its pre-draft assessments of Cruz’s skills and kept the Texas native on its radar through January, when it swung a deal with Seattle during the Supplemental Draft to bring the defender on board. After winning a spot on the roster during preseason, Cruz will be expected to form a solid bond with fellow reservist Chris Schuler – with the added benefit of being able to learn from two of the league’s best “middle men” in Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers.
Collegiate Stats at Southern Methodist University
Year GP/GS G A
2010 (senior) 17/17 1 3
2009 (junior) 10/7 2 0
2008 (sophomore) 16/16 3 1
2007 (R/S soph.) 4/4 1 1
2006 (freshman) 20/3 2 0
Totals 67/47 9 5
Selected by Seattle Sounders FC in the second round (21st overall) of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore, Mary., but was cut by Seattle during the 2011 preseason … Rather than test the waters of second division soccer upon his early departure in Seattle, chose instead to finish his Economics degree at SMU in the summer of 2011 … Featured twice for Real Salt Lake in MLS Reserve League action in 2011, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 win at FC Dallas (8/09) and starting and playing 82 minutes in a 0-1 defeat at Houston (8/21) … Also represented the FC Dallas reserves on a pair of occasions, going the full 90 minutes in back-to-back games on 10/02 at Colorado (1-5 L) and 10/05 v. Sporting KC (2-1 W) …
Over his career at SMU, Cruz played in 67 games, scoring nine goals and adding five assists … Named to the NSCAA Midwest Regional Second Team as well as the Conference USA Second Team in 2010 after helping lead the Mustangs to a 16-2-2 record, an Elite Eight appearance and a Conference USA Regular Season Championship … Also named to Conference USA Second Team in 2008 and to the 2006 Conference USA All-Freshman Team … Was in the U.S. Youth National Team pools at the U-15, U-16 and U-18 levels … A five-year member of the Olympic Development Program growing up in Texas.