D.C. United have missed the MLS Cup Playoffs for four straight years, which meant this was yet another offseason in which finding talent – preferably young, but experienced talent – was a top priority.
Last week, they hit a bullseye in that regard by acquiring Danny Cruz from the Houston Dynamo.
Cruz, a 22-year-old midfielder who started last year’s MLS Cup final and is entering his fourth year in the league, adds depth to D.C.’s already strong midfield ranks.
“I’m excited to be a part of the club,” he told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “I’ve heard nothing but great things and I’ve obviously played against them numerous times. I’m excited to play for [head coach Ben Olsen] and to get rolling.”
Having been dealt on Friday, Cruz already joined up with his new club and is training with the team over the next week in Sarasota, Fla.
The number of familiar faces already within United’s ranks has made the move an easy one.
“They’ve been great,” he said of his new teammates. “I’ve enjoyed it already the first couple days and was actually already good friends with a good amount of guys from this team from past experiences, so it wasn’t a huge transition from the teammate perspective.”
The winger is eagerly anticipating the chance to play for Olsen, who, during his playing days, excelled in a similar spot to Cruz’s.
“He’s one of the better outside mids to ever come through this league," Cruz said of his new coach. "To be able to have that as your head coach and to use that as a tool to learn, I couldn’t have landed in a better situation.”
But most importantly, Cruz wants another shot at an MLS Cup with his new team in hopes of easing the pain of dropping last year’s final to the LA Galaxy.
“Even though I’m with a different club, the bittersweet taste of making it to the final and not being able to win definitely still lingers in my mind,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting on the field and doing everything I can to try to help another club get there. It was an amazing experience last year, but by no means am I happy with the way it ended, and I’m looking forward to hopefully progressing this year.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.