A work ethic second to none has always followed Danny Cruz through his nearly ten-year professional playing career. Cruz now looks to implement the same work ethic and passion that carried him through playing the beautiful game at multiple tiers in the United States and abroad, to educating as an assistant coach of the Real Monarchs.
Landing with the Monarchs as a player in August 2017, Cruz featured in nine matches for the club in 2017, playing 617 minutes while making six starts. Now the newest addition to the coaching staff at the defending United Soccer League regular-season champion Real Monarchs, Cruz steps into a role garnering a new perspective as a coach.
“With anything there is a learning curve but I’m up for this new challenge,” Cruz explained. “To be honest I’m honored to be joining such a great staff. I have great support all around me and I couldn’t be any luckier.”
Coaching has always been something Cruz has considered once his days of competing as a player were over. Playing soccer is all he has known for nearly ten years, and the possibility of not being involved in the beautiful game scared him. Having coached a high school girls team during his days as a Minnesota United FC player, Cruz saw in himself a burning desire to continue to compete, now in a new position. With fear quelled, the opportunity to remain competitive with a coach’s perspective is something that has made Cruz extremely eager.
“This is a club that I genuinely believe in and it’s a club that’s treated me with nothing but love and respect from the moment I arrived and I’m grateful for that and for this opportunity,” Cruz said. “For me it’s now about listening and learning from one of the most impressive staffs in American soccer. I now want my competitiveness to echo within players in this club about what it takes to be a good professional and that the young guys can come to me for anything that they need.”
The joy the game brings to Cruz and the work ethic he has carried his entire career has paved a path to coaching that has resonated through the staff at the Monarchs.
“Danny’s decision to move in a coaching role at this point in his career is something to applaud,” Real Monarchs Head Coach Mark Briggs said. “The enthusiasm and work ethic he possesses is something that I am proud to have on my staff and I think he will add to our staff immensely.”
To further extend his knowledge of the game at an organization he genuinely believes in, Cruz wanted to see how training at the RSL Academy translated into matches, which in turn invoked a curiosity and a greater hunger to teach the game. Even in his short time as a player with the Monarchs, Cruz would spend his days off from training, traveling or playing a game to take in an RSL Academy match while making himself available to the Academy players as a resource to learn and grow on and off the field.
“I try to be around and be the guy that says the right things, does the right things for the younger guys on the team,” Cruz made clear. “Young guys are looking for guidance and for the most part it is about growing the people around you and can you help grow the players around you? In turn that helps me grow as a player and as person.”
Being a coach with the Real Monarchs ahead of the club’s fourth season in the USL, Cruz is already focused on the season while working on his National B-License to strengthen his knowledge and commitment to coaching.
“The mental side of the game for me is constantly working now,” Cruz explained. “More so than the last ten years for a two-hour training session. All I can say is I’m really thankful to the club and the entire staff for the opportunity and I look forward to running with it.”