Despite injuries, Danny Cruz endures

After just three matches, Union midfielder Cruz is battle tested

 

Philadelphia Union midfielder Danny Cruz keeps getting hit in the head.

And he keeps getting back up.

After breaking his nose on March 10 in Colorado and then exiting Philly’s March 16 contest vs. New England in the eighth minute because of a minor concussion, Cruz took an elbow to the head this past weekend at Red Bull Arena – and then another one as he was getting back to his feet.

That’s quite the beating over one three-game stretch – but, for Cruz, it’s not entirely unexpected.

“Sometimes I put myself in those situations,” the midfielder said following the Union’s 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls on Saturday. “I’m never one that’s going to back down, especially for teammates.”

Cruz’s never-back-down attitude stems partly from his roots as a football and hockey player.

The 23-year-old midfielder transferred his tenacious style of play to the soccer field, and isn’t planning on changing that even if the left side of his nose is now bumpier than it once was.

“I put myself in those spots,” Cruz said. “It’s partially my fault. But I’m OK with it.”

In spite of the injuries, Cruz has started three of Philly’s first four games on the right wing. And he said he’ll “absolutely” be ready if called upon again for Saturday’s contest vs. Columbus at Crew Stadium.

“It certainly doesn’t feel good to get elbowed in the head, and that’s three games in a row it happened,” he said. “But I’ve just got to move on and try to stay healthy.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.