Inside Doop: Danny Cruz's memorable performance

Inside Doop: Danny Cruz's memorable performance

May 6, 2013, 4:30 pm
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CHESTER, Pa. – In the first half of Saturday’s game against the Seattle Sounders, Philadelphia Union midfielder Danny Cruz heard some boos from fans at PPL Park.

He proceeded to turn that into chants for “Cruuuz.”

In one of the most unlikely developments of the season – if not franchise history – the oft-maligned Cruz scored two goals in the span of one minute in a 2-2 draw with Seattle.

Let’s take a closer look at how he pulled that off, and more big storylines from Saturday’s game and the week ahead, in this week’s “Inside Doop.”

Three thoughts about Saturday’s game

1. While seeing a lot of vitriol from fans and bloggers (and yes, he does see it) for some of the flaws in his game, the truth is that Cruz is routinely able to use his speed and hustle to get behind the defense and put himself in the right position. Sometimes, his poor first touches prevent the Union from scoring when he does. But against the Sounders, he took full advantage with two terrific goals off rebounds. Incredibly, the two goals in one minute matched the amount of goals he scored all of last season. And the emotional celebrations that followed had to have been pretty cool to see, even for the Danny Cruz haters out there (of which, for some reason, there seem to be many).

2. For the second straight game, strikers Jack McInerney and Conor Casey were not able to find the back of the net. But both still had a major impact on the game as the partnership between them continues to blossom. It was a Casey header off the post following a great cross from McInerney that led to Cruz’s first goal, and it was a McInerney long-range shot off the crossbar that led to the second. And if not for a poor no-call from the ref (more on that below), Casey would have drawn a penalty kick in the final minute. Union manager John Hackworth has been wise to leave those two alone and let them develop, even though it means the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Sébastien Le Toux, has to come off the bench.

3. Hackworth did his best Peter Nowak impression following the game, wasting no time in blasting the officials. And while he had good reason to do so, the typically tame manager perhaps went a little bit overboard. The double red card on Sheanon Williams and Seattle’s Lamar Neagle was indeed harsh – although not really “bizarre,” as Hackworth called it. The shoving match between them, after all, was rather intense. And the no-call on the handball in the box was bad but those are tough calls to make, especially in the waning moments of a game. Hackworth’s general point, however, is spot on: The refereeing in MLS generally needs to improve.

Three questions for the week ahead

1. Is it time for the Union and Bakary Soumaré to make up – at least temporarily? The high-priced center back that hasn’t played a minute this season and requested a trade months ago might be forced into action Saturday when the Union face Chicago because of an injury to Jeff Parke and suspension to Sheanon Williams. colleague Ryan Bright caught up with Soumaré, who pointed out that, “If I play well, yes, maybe it can expedite a trade – but if you play well, the team might not be willing to trade you.” Either way, it’s a very interesting storyline, and even more interesting when you consider that Soumaré has a home in Chicago and used to play for the Fire.

2. The other defensive replacement for Saturday’s game will almost certainly be Gabriel Farfan, who will slot in at left back and push Ray Gaddis to right back while Williams serves his one-game suspension. Farfan had played left back for much of the past two seasons but has transitioned back into his natural midfield position this season and has since seen his playing time shrink. The Union probably won’t skip a beat with Farfan back there but a lot of eyes will still be on the defense, which has surrendered two goals in each of the past three games. Can a makeshift unit improve on that and post its first shutout since mid-March?

3. Will there be other lineup changes away from the defense? With Philly playing three games in eight days, including a midweek home showdown against the Los Angeles Galaxy next Wednesday, Hackworth has indicated he may play some guys off the bench a little more. That could be a good thing for Le Toux, Jose Kléberson and perhaps even Roger Torres. In recent days, Hackworth has been peppered with questions about Kléberson, the Designated Player who’s played sparingly since coming over from Brazil. But, as of now, the manager seems content to keep Keon Daniel as his starting central attacking midfielder, saying there’s not a “short leash” with Daniel.

Stat of the week

The only MLS midfielder with more combined goals and assists than Danny Cruz this season is Graham Zusi, perhaps the best player in the entire league.

Quote of the week

“Look, I’ll raise my hand and take the fine because it has to be said that we cannot be in this league and have this level of play and have officiating be as bad as that.” – John Hackworth

Player of the week

Cruz rewarded Hackworth’s faith in him with one of the most memorable performances ever at PPL Park. And his two goals, the first by a Union midfielder this season, proved to be vitally important to get a result, even if it wasn't the result they wanted.