Wilf Thorne / Houston Dynamo

Cruz's return highlights reserve match

A day after a physically and mentally taxing 2-2 draw to FC Dallas, the Dynamo Reserves fell to the Dallas reserves 3-2 Sunday morning. Despite the result, there were certainly some positives to come from the game. Houston got a big lift from midfielder Danny Cruz, who came on at halftime for his first game appearance since April 23 due to a knee injury. Cruz brought his normal energy to the pitch and, as always, was integral in pushing the tempo in his 22 minutes of action.

“I felt good,” Cruz said. “The plan was to get 15 or 20 minutes, and it felt good. It’ll be harder to go hard this week, but we’ll see how it feels.”

MORE: Recap of Sunday's reserve match

Cruz is hoping to be back for the first team in time to make some contributions to a midfield that will be slightly shorthanded in June as Je-Vaughn Watson competes for Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“Danny always brings energy and it was good to get him minutes,” assistant coach Wade Barrett said. “We would’ve loved to have gotten him a few more minutes today, but we wanted to cap his minutes before a hard week of training.”

Along with Cruz, Dynamo Academy forward Chance Bergen helped push the tempo early in the second half with the Dynamo down 2-0. Houston was rewarded when Bergen and Josue Soto made an SMU connection – Bergen will join the program in the fall and Soto is an alumnus – to pull one back for the Dynamo.

That goal, the first by a Dynamo Academy player in a reserve match, was part of another positive: the play of some younger players. Soto (a home-grown signing), Bergen, and three other Academy players got time on the field and impressed. Getting meaningful playing time for young players is the focus of the renewed MLS Reserve League, and it is something the Dynamo plan to take full advantage of going forward.

“If they’re part of the Academy, they’re part of the club,” Cruz said of his younger teammates. “We treat them like our own, and while we make fun of them a little, which is expected when you’re a rookie, I think [the relationship’s] good.”

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