Houston Dynamo midfielder Danny Cruz made it a goal of his to make the U.S. team for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be held in Egypt beginning in late September. It was made official on Friday when Cruz was included in the squad of 21 players selected by national team coach Thomas Rongen to represent the USA.
"I am excited," said Cruz. "It's always good to play against really good teams. Germany is a top team in Europe. South Korea and Cameroon are going to be extremely fast [and difficult]. But we have a good team, he [Coach Thomas Rongen] put together the best 21 guys he could and I am excited and I think we are going to do well."
While Cruz himself is excited, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear is also happy for his young midfielder as he feels that the hard work Cruz has put in all year paid dividends with his inclusion.
"[I am] happy for him and I hope he has a great time and great tournament," said Kinnear. "Love having him as he works as hard as anybody and is trying to learn. I know Thomas has a tremendous amount of respect for what he brings when he comes in. Hope he plays well, and hope the team plays well as it is great experience."
For the University of Nevada-Las Vegas product, the confidence that his MLS coaches have placed in him throughout the year has really helped his development. Cruz has played in six MLS matches, started all three U.S. Open Cup matches for the Dynamo and has also played in both games so far in CONCACAF Champions League play.
"Dom's put a lot of confidence in me as well as [assistant coach John Spencer]," said Cruz. "As I said from day one, it was my goal to continue to progress on such an experienced team of veterans who continue to push me and want me to get better.
"I think I have progressed over the year and slowly gotten better," he continued. "It's been a good opportunity as I have been put in some tough games and some important games as well. I played again in CONCACAF [on Wednesday night] and it was a tough game on the road. It's been a great year so far."
With the thoughts of Egypt and representing his country at the U-20 World Cup in his mind, Cruz still knows that in the short term, his entire focus needs to be on the Colorado Rapids and this week's upcoming match.
"It's a big game and we're excited," said Cruz. "We want to continue to stay on top of the conference, so it's going to be a tough game on the road."
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSnet.com.