Union trade Pajoy to DC for midfielder Cruz
In yet another case of Union interim coach John Hackworth putting his personal stamp on the team’s roster, the Union have traded veteran and leading scorer Lionard Pajoy and an international roster spot to DC United for 22-year-old midfielder Danny Cruz.
The Union face the United on Sunday at RFK Stadium. Both Pajoy and Cruz will be available to play.
“It came about because D.C. had an interest in Lio and we had an interest in Cruz,” Hackworth told Dave Zeitlin of MLSSoccer.com
. “So this one was a win-win for both clubs."
Cruz, a former United States U-17 National Team member under Hackworth, is a 5-foot-8 versatile winger with upside. Depending on how Hackworth chooses to use the energetic mid, Cruz is expected play high in the Union’s 4-3-3 system, next to primary striker Jack McInerney and opposite Freddy Adu.
"He's been a really good player in this league,” Hackworth said. “He was always a pain in our side every time we played them.
"We’ll see which striker scores a goal for their new team."
According to Steven Goff of the Washington Post
, Cruz was frustrated with the amount of playing time he received with the United, but did not request a trade. Cruz started 12 games and played 16 for the United this season with one goal and two assists on 16 shots.
For the Union, they are getting character as well as talent.
"He’s the kind of athlete you want to be around as a coach and a teammate,” Hackworth said."
Shedding a pricey 31-year-old striker doesn’t hurt the Union, who are loaded up front with young offensive talent. The emergence of McInerney and Antoine Hoppenot at forward made Colombian Pajoy expendable, despite his five goals on the season. Rookie Chandler Hoffman, who started ahead of Pajoy last Sunday against the Chicago Fire, and Josue Martinez, also provide youthful depth.
But that doesn’t mean Hackworth was happy to see Pajoy go.
“Lio’s been great to us in many ways,” Hackworth said. “He's been a fantastic professional in locker room and we’ll miss him."
The Union hold the second-lowest offensive output in the Eastern Conference with 23 goals in 21 games, second only to the Columbus Crew, who have 21 goals in 21 gamesE-mail Ryan Bright at firstname.lastname@example.org