WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Jan. 15, 2009 – The Houston Dynamo has selected Danny Cruz with the team’s first pick in the 2009 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
The former Menace star was the 41st player chosen in the draft. Having just turned 19, he is the youngest player drafted this time around.
An emerging talent, Cruz had never even watched a soccer game until his freshman year in high school. Only a few years ago, he was starring in football and roller hockey in Glendale, Ariz. Within three years of playing his first soccer game, Cruz represented the U.S. at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea.
Last Tuesday, the UNLV sophomore signed a pro contract with Generation adidas, only three days after his 19th birthday. He spent the last few days in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., taking part in the MLS Combine.
A member of the U.S. National U-20 team, he is the youngest player in this year’s nine-member Generation adidas class. All the other Generation adidas players were among the first 20 picks – including top pick Steve Zakuani, an Akron product chosen by the expansion Seattle Sounders.
"This is an honor for Danny and a testament to his hard work and dedication as an athlete," Menace head coach Casey Mann said. "We are proud that he continues the tradition of Menace players in the MLS and we look forward to watching him shine not only in the MLS, but with our national teams as well."
Cruz is part of a Dynamo team that won the MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, the two-time defending champs handily won the Western Conference’s regular-season title, finishing 13-5-12 (8 points better than second-place Chivas USA). The Dynamo’s hopes for three straight MLS Cup championships ended with a loss in the semifinals to the New York Red Bulls.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear’s team chose Cruz midway through the third round. Houston’s only other pick came at No. 56, in the fourth and final round.
In seven matches with the Menace in 2008, Cruz tallied three goals and two assists.
He joins a club of more than 30 former Menace players who have reached the pros. He will become the 13th former member of the Menace to play Major League Soccer. Find this list at www.menacesoccer.com/team/alumni
Cruz will continue to represent his country as a member of the national U-20 team. This weekend, he heads to Trinidad & Tobago, where he will be training with his national teammates Jan. 18-24. They will be competing in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, hosted by Egypt this fall.
ABOUT GENERATION ADIDAS: Sponsored by adidas, this is a joint venture between MLS and the United States Soccer Federation. With the goal of raising the level of young soccer talent in the U.S., the program encourages elite American players to begin their MLS careers before completing their college eligibility. Generation adidas players receive grants to further their college education. Their salaries do not count against the salary budgets of their respective teams.
Last year’s class of nine Generation adidas players produced six of the first eight selections in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, including the top three selections. All nine players were among the draft’s first 19 picks. In 2007, the eight Generation adidas players were selected in the first 14 slots.