Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 -- Danny Cruz is another Arizona player who is making the transition from player to coach.
Last week, Real Monarchs SLC announced the promotion of Cruz to assistant coach of the club. Cruz played professionally for nine years with seven clubs throughout Major League Soccer, USL, NASL, and Europe.
Locally, Cruz attended Ironwood High School (graduated 2007) and he led his team to the state championship in 2006. He played for Sereno Soccer Club and attended UNLV. He was selected in the third round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by the Houston Dynamo. After three seasons in Houston, Cruz joined D.C. United for one season in 2012 and signed with the Philadelphia Union for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. In 2015, he was loaned to Norwegian side Bodo/Glimy. He returned home to sign with NASL's Minnesota United in 2016 and in 2017 he started the season with NASL's San Francisco Deltas and finished the year with the Real Monarchs SLC.
In his nine-year professional career, Cruz appeared in 199 matches and scored 15 goals. Cruz represented the United States at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea and 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
Cruz's journey to the professional ranks is a unique one as he didn't play soccer until he was freshman at Ironwood. He primarily played football and hockey and after playing on the JV squad his freshman year, Cruz transitioned to club soccer. From there, he made the Olympic Development Team (ODP), regional team, and played in the Disney Cup (International Youth Soccer Tournament). It was at one match where he scored a hat-trick that U.S. Soccer scouts saw him and invited him to the youth national team.
Cruz follows in the footsteps of Grey Vanney (current head coach of Toronto FC) and Pablo Mastroeni (former head coach of Colorado rapids) of Arizona players who have transitioned to coaches.