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Catching up with Danny Cruz

After racking up some frequent flier miles, Dynamo midfielder Danny Cruz took some time out of his busy offseason to chat with HoustonDynamo.com

How has your offseason gone so far? What have you been up to?

After the season ended, I went over to England for a couple weeks. Last year, I was fortunate to train with Nottingham Forrest, and after reaching out to them again this year, they said I was welcome to come back. It was a great experience over there. Aside from it being cold, the training sessions were very intense, and it was great to be able to continue playing at a high level, even though the MLS season was over.

After my training stint in England, I flew to Spain for the Generation adidas trip. This was my second trip with some of these guys, and it was an unbelievable opportunity. We played and beat the Real Madrid reserves. In the second game, we played Rayo Vallecano in the pouring rain and we came away with a win, and in the third game we defeated Atlético Madrid. Against Real Madrid, I started playing outside wing before I was subbed out in the 78th minute. Because it was an exhibition, there were no substitution rules, so when one of our players got hurt, [head coach] Schellas [Hyndman] put me back in the game at right back. The following day Schellas asked if I was comfortable playing outside back and I told him I was happy to try the position out. So against Atlético Madrid, I played left back and even though we played in a downpour, it was a lot of fun.

Aside from the soccer games, what else did you all do when you were in Spain?

Aside from the games, we had two incredible opportunities. The first was to watch Real Madrid play a Champions League game against French club Auxerre. Real Madrid won 4-0, and it was unbelievable to watch them in person. Seeing Cristiano Ronaldo on TV is one thing, but when you watch him in person, it's an incredible sight. The other opportunity we had was to go to one of Real Madrid's private training sessions. We were 40 feet from guys like Ronaldo and [manager] José Mourinho. One guy who I really enjoyed watching was the leftback Marcelo.

What was it like playing for FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman?

I had a lot of fun with him. It's always interesting to see how different coaches work. I was with a good group of guys, and I can't say enough about how thankful I am for the trip.

What is an offseason workout for you like? Do you focus more on weights or cardio?

To be honest, I don't do as much lifting weights anymore. My focus isn't on getting bigger, but more so on being able to run longer and faster. I'm heading back to Arizona now to work out with a personal trainer. We will do a lot of ball work and work on the technical aspects of my game, which will help me stay fit. For me, the best way to stay in shape is to continue playing, and I've been fortunate enough to play a lot during the offseason.

Last week was an important landmark in the life of Danny Cruz. What did you do to celebrate your 21st birthday?

I went to Las Vegas with a bunch of my teammates. We stayed at Mandalay Bay and had a great time. It's always fun hanging out with my boys away from the field. In Vegas, I had the chance to see the show Blue Man Group. It was really interesting; definitely something different. 

The Dynamo have been busy over the past few weeks acquiring some new players. What are your thoughts on the acquisitions and on the 2011 season?

We've said it before, last year we didn't play the way we wanted. I think many of the new acquisitions are necessary. I know [head coach] Dominic [Kinnear] and the entire organization are working to get us back to the club that we should be. I'm excited to play with the new guys that are coming in, and I'm sure they'll be able to teach me some new things as well.

This weekend is the MLS player combine followed by the MLS draft. What was it like for you leading up to the combine and draft in 2009?

To be honest, I did not do too well at the combine. It was a different experience for me, and I was extremely nervous. As a result, I really did not enjoy myself. Thankfully it worked out, because I landed with a great organization which has shaped me into the player I am now. If I were to talk to guys at the combine now, I would tell them there is no reason to be nervous. It's an exciting time in their lives and they should enjoy it. I really wish I would have had someone to talk to about it before I went there, because there are so many things going through your mind.

Lastly, Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad recently retired to join the D.C. United coaching staff. What are your thoughts on Pat as a teammate and as a friend?

It’s no secret that he is one of the best players to come out of this league. I am thankful for being able to work with him. We had a pretty funny relationship, because there was a joke around the locker room that he was old enough to be my dad. In all honesty, he was the first guy I would call if there was anything I was ever worried about. I am thankful for everything he did for me and for the club. There is no doubt in my mind he will be a great coach because as a player, he was a great leader.