John Hackworth says Danny Cruz can play on either side of the field.
The 22 year old, acquired from D.C. Thursday in a trade involving Lionard Pajoy, has spent the majority of his four year MLS career as a right-sided midfield player. But Philadelphia's interim manager highlighted Cruz's flexibility at Friday's introductory press conference.
"The fact is, Danny is a very versatile player," Hackworth told reporters. "When he was younger he played for me as a forward. I think that's important to note. Our thought as a staff is that he has the potential to be a goal scorer for us. At the same time, he can play on the right side or the left side. In our formation, in the 4-3-3, he can show up on either the right or left side. If we change and play in a more traditional 4-4-2, again he has the work ethic and the ability to go up and down the flanks on either side. I think, in some ways, Lio (Pajoy) and Danny have similar traits, and because of that I think Danny fits into our system right away."
Cruz played against Philadelphia with both Houston and D.C. The UNLV and United States U-20 product echoed Hackworth's sentiments on flexibility and versatility.
"I know you probably hear this from every single player, but I do feel comfortable on both sides," explained Cruz. "I have a lot of confidence striking the ball with both feet, and I'm not afraid to do it. I've seen this team play numerous times. We played against them (at PPL Park), and at D.C., and it wasn't a pretty game for us (on the road). Philly had the ball the entire game, we ended up getting a set piece, and sometimes that's the way things go. I think I have a lot to offer and I'm just looking forward to being able to show the fanbase, and everybody else, that I'm ready to contribute."
In three and a half seasons with Houston and D.C., Cruz made 39 starts in 67 total games. He has 5 goals and 8 assists in 3,590 career minutes played.
Statistically, Cruz played his best game with D.C. On March 30th of this year. He bagged a goal and an assist in a 4-1 home win against Dallas. Cruz started and played 76 minutes in that match.
At 5 foot 8 and 170 pounds, Cruz is quick and agile, but he's not the biggest guy in the league.
Philadelphia has one of the smallest rosters in MLS, but Hackworth says that's not a big concern to him.
"The style that we try to play is not typical to a style of soccer where size is required," Hackworth said. "We want to keep the ball on the ground, we want to put a lot of numbers forward, and we want to create chances in a variety of ways. I talked about Jack McInerney. He's not a big guy at all, but he's one of the best headers of the ball. Timing and technique, can, in my opinion, overrule the physical part of (the game) in many cases. Danny is the same way. He plays so much bigger than he is. And that's what the game of soccer is really all about. It's a technical game with ideas to execute, and then it's as much about agility and quickness. That part of the game, the bigger you get, takes away from some of those true fundamentals. Do I wish maybe we had some more size? Sometimes. But we'll see. Because I'll take the quickness, the agile and technical players any day."