WASHINGTON, April 30, 2012 — Danny Cruz admitted it was not his best game. Some players play blinders when they go up against their old teams. Dwayne De Rosario comes to mind. Other players get too wound up and nervous.
Still, Cruz put in a decent hour and change to help D.C. United earn an impressive 3-2 victory against his former teamates, the visiting Houston Dynamo. The teams squared off at RFK Stadium on Saturday night before 13,975 fans.
Cruz, 22, was released by Houston at the end of last season after three years with the team; the trade to United done for the allocation money.
“To be honest…I was a bit nervous,” Cruz said. “It was different than I expected. I’m not going to lie.”
Cruz was drafted by Houston in 2009. He was a key player in the club’s playoff run last year and played all 90 minutes on the Dynamo’s MLS Cup final team that lost 1-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“To step on the field against a family that had molded me was a bit different,” Cruz admitted. “There were nerves there and it showed a little bit. Hopefully it’s out of the way and I can perform better the next time we play them.”
On a night when United was honoring the armed forces, it was appropriate that Cruz, a military brat, was profiled in the game program. Cruz’s father, Alejo, was a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army and served in Operation Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom and enduring Freedom.
Cruz has appeared in all but one of United’s nine games this season, starting six. When he joined the club, he was expected to be a backup to right-flank player Andy Najar, but instead, the speedy midfielder claimed a starting role on the right flank.
Against Houston, United went with the same lineup that had pounded the New York Red Bulls 4-1 the previous weekend. The team took the lead off a header from Macon Santos in the 11th minute, who connected with a perfect cross from Chris Pontius.
Cruz was working well on the right flank beating out Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor a number times to win a corner or earn a cross. He had one clear break-away but was foiled by former United defender Bobby Boswell. Cruz’s over-enthusiasm earned him a yellow card on minute 32. He then got a shot in just before the interval from a fine pass from Pontius, but it went wide.
After the break, Houston got back into the game on a goal from Will Bruin, who beat out Cruz to get his foot on a cross. Lucky for Cruz, United captain Dwayne De Rosario sent a cross over which found its way in the net to get United back in the lead. Bruin got his second of the night to tie the game 2-2.
Cruz had a shot on goal moments later but Houston goalie Tally Hall made the easy save. His night was over in the 65th minute when Najar replaced him with the score ties at 2-2.
Santos would later score on a wonderful header off a cross from defender Danny Woolard to give United a 3-2 win.
“Three points against a team like that, who we will play three times, is huge,” Cruz said.
United now remains unbeaten in seven games, and finally, earns its first back-to-back wins since June of 2009.
“You guys can no longer talk about back-to-back wins anymore because we finally did it,” Cruz said. “…two in a row is great but we are not satisfied with that.”
United now faces three road-games ending at Houston where they will help the Texas club open the new BBVA Compass Stadium.
For over 20 years John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer since the league’s inception in 1996.
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