Cruz, Hall come up big in first-ever Dynamo starts

Young midfielder, keeper both contribute in win over D.C. United

HOUSTON – Tally Hall and Danny Cruz both got their first-ever MLS starts and both contributed mightily as the Houston Dynamo defeated D.C. United 2-0 on Saturday night. Hall posted a shutout while Cruz notched both a goal and an assist as Houston cruised to a 2-0 victory.

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“We needed that win,” said the 20-year-old Cruz. “It was real important to get those three points and jump hopefully back up the table, depending on other results. It was important to me obviously to come out and hopefully show that I can play and with everybody. It was a team effort, obviously, and the three points are huge.”

While Hall was expected to start, while Pat Onstad is away on Canadian National Team duty, Cruz was a surprise starter for coach Dominic Kinnear, who decided to roll the dice and came up with sevens on the night.

“I thought he had a good second half against Salt Lake [on May 13] and he’s been training very well and I thought he deserved a shot to start,” Kinnear said of Cruz. “I think he took full advantage of his opportunity and he looked dangerous right from the beginning and took his goal well. I am pleased for him and I think he should be proud of himself.”

Cruz notched not only the opening goal, but he also contributed an assist on the second goal. After scoring the first, Cruz immediately went over to his coaches and teammates, who all wanted to join in on the celebration.

“The goal was special for me, and hopefully for the guys,” said Cruz. “It was important that I celebrated with everyone because I truly felt like everyone contributed to me getting to where I am today. It was a buildup of a lot of commitment from all the guys and the substitutes and the coaching staff and I wanted everybody to be a part of it.”

While his teammates appreciated the gesture, they have been more impressed with Cruz’s work ethic since joining Houston including the tireless effort he put in despite the heat and humidity against United.

"I'm proud of him and it's good to see,” noted defender Eddie Robinson. “Danny did what Danny does every day. He works harder than anybody on the field and he picks up things and he learns every single day. It's great to see and he certainly deserves it. He deserved to be out there. He earned it and he deserved to score a goal."

Hall had much less to do on the night than Cruz, but was equally effective. When it mattered, he stepped up and got the job done.The 25-year-old got his hand on a cross in the 26th minute and stopped a late Rodney Wallace effort to preserve the shutout.

“Anytime you get a shutout and notch some saves, it’s a good night,” said Kinnear, and I am happy for him. He made some good saves. The play in the first half where he got a touch on it was pretty brave save from him. He didn’t have too much to do until the end there.”

Hall was happy not only for himself, but also for Cruz, who sits next to him in the locker room.

“I’m just really happy to see that he got a goal for himself,” said Hall. “It was an important night for both of us. He got his first goal, and I got my first shutout. So it’s a fun night, but we kind of both got a positive result and we can celebrate that.”

Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to dwaincapodice@gmail.com.