Sidelined with a hamstring injury, D.C. United midfielder DannyCruz wasn’t available for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match played at the MarylandSoccerplex. Instead the22-year-old was on autograph duty, signing away and posing for pictures withfans for about an hour prior to kickoff.
But the fact that Cruz wasn’t on the field – or even on BenOlsen’s bench – didn’t stop the gritty winger from winning over a few newfollowers to the Black-and-Red cause.
“Five kids came up for autographs not wearing D.C. Unitedgear,” said Nathan Fry, the club's Director of Merchandising, who was running the team store next to where Cruz wassigning autographs. “Danny on hisown just volunteered to buy all five kids a t-shirt of their choice. So the kids came over to the booth,selected what they wanted and took it back over to get signed.”Fry added that the mother of one of the children was "shocked" by Cruz’s gesture.
“I don’t think any mother that has got her kids in line forautographs expects a professional athlete to do that,” Fry noted. “She was surprised for sure that he wasthat gracious.”
Asked about the exchange on Wednesday, the eternally humbleCruz downplayed his own generosity.
“I just want people to understand that we have a good group ofguys,” Cruz said. “Anyone in ourlocker room would do something like that because we appreciate our fans.”
He also hopes to have created some return clients for theclub.
“They came out to support our team,” Cruz continued. “If anything I want them to be able totake away some memorabilia and hopefully we make them true fans. Hopefully they’ll come back to anothergame and enjoy it.”