Cruz returns to Dynamo training

Midfielder trained Monday after missing time with hyperextended knee

Houston Dynamo's Danny Cruz

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Danny Cruz’s seemingly endless wait to get back on the field looks to be coming to an end.

The energetic midfielder has been out of the Dynamo fold since
aggravating a right knee hyperextension in the April 23 draw against the
Chicago Fire. On Monday morning, Cruz joined his team for a full
training session for the first time since the injury.

“Today felt great,” Cruz told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “Mentally,
it’s tough sitting out, and while it was a short session today, it was
great for me because I need to work on my fitness. But overall it’s a
great step forward.”

Cruz took part in a short-field game and did some fitness work with the
club to end the session. He admitted that while there is some rust from
his time off, he’s encouraged by the way he felt. That encouragement is
pushing the midfielder to continue to build his fitness, something
that’s essential playing in Houston.

“He did OK, but he was tired there at the end,” head coach Dominic
Kinnear said of Cruz’s first day. “You have to be fit when you come back,
because the heat’s setting in and it’s hard to get fitness back in this
heat. But he said he feels OK and had no pain.”

Despite the good feelings and positive step forward, Cruz was reluctant
to give a firm target date or timeline for his return to game action.

The injury struck Cruz in the middle of what was a good run of form.
His mental game was starting to catch up to his energy and pace, and the
players around him were feeding off his style of play. Houston is ready to get that energy back on the field, especially with Jamaica
having called Je-Vaughn Watson in for June’s Gold Cup.

“He was playing well before he got hurt,” Kinnear said. “He was a
driving force for us before the injury, and we’ve missed his energy and
enthusiasm. When you add him, it makes us that much better.”

On his way back to contributing for Houston, Cruz is focused in the
short term on getting his fitness up to par. In the long term, the
midfielder is ready to get his season back on track and help his team.

“I’ve always been a player that knows my role, and I want to
contribute,” Cruz said. “To be honest, being out has been a good
learning process. I can see things on the field and see what I can do
better. Now I want to come back and use that and be the same type of
player I was before the injury and help the team continue to do well.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.