Leone Cruz for Centerback - Or why having an MLS caliber coach in college helps

Certain college programs are associated with certain coaches in MLS. Here we are used to Sigi Schmid picking UCLA or other southern California kids. FC Dallas has gotten used to their coach picking guys from Southern Methodist University. In both cases this is because the coach used to be there. The Seattle Sounders went a little off the board with their 2nd pick, when they picked Juan Cruz out of SMU. Leone the Lion, you can follow him on twitter, had some questions about his size and might have a future at right back in the league. We chatted about his connections to the League, where he can play on the backline, and of course - bicycling.

Dave Clark: How do think that [the connections to MLS through Hyndman] help you in being here and trying out for a team?

Juan Cruz: Definitely with the connection that there was there's always been an environment where the coaches know what to look for in players. Definitely a desire on both ends, with Schellas, he was a great college coach, but he also looked for - I don't want to say better things - but he looked to be the best coach he can be and by doing that he upped his level and went to the next level in MLS, and that's something that SMU ingrained into me. I learned to constantly try to become better in the things that I'm passionate about.

DC: I saw today that you played in the center, there was some thought in the draft that you may have a future as a right back. How do you see yourself as a player?

Cruz: Obviously whatever the coaches ask I'm going to get out there and do my best. As a right back I enjoy that. You get to get out there and join the attack a little more. But the speed of the game here in MLS is faster paced, with the fastest being on the outside - for example Steve Zakuani. I'm fortunate enough to not have to play against him. I'm glad that I do get to play with him. As a right back if it comes to it and the coaches ask me to play there I'd be comfortable. It might take a little time to adjust but I can do it there.

DC: With essentially three starting backs here with Hurtado, Parke and Ianni are there different things you can learn from each of them over the next several weeks?

Cruz: In any environment, regardless of the players, there's always something you can learn. In order to get better you have to take a little bit from everyone that you are surrounded by, kind of take the things that you like, those features that fit your game and call it your own.

DC: On twitter you asked about riding a bicycle around Seattle. Have you taken to any biking yet?

Cruz: I haven't gotten to yet. I'm hoping eventually. I have heard that there are some really cool trails around here. Obviously I can't come to practice one day and tell coach that I got hurt riding a trail, but hopefully I'll get around to it. Preseason is a little crazy, with a lot of soccer going on, but I'd really like to experience the outdoors and do it on a bike.

DC: More of a street bike or trail?

Cruz: When I asked that I was asked that I was thinking about a street bike, but then I heard about the off-road here and I didn't realize the hills and all the mountain ranges it would be too much to pass up.

So while Juan Leone Cruz fights a battle to work his way up the depth chart (he was the 4th CB today due to Taylor Graham nursing a minor injury and Julien Baudet's contract still being worked out) he will also imagine being a guy who can enjoy the best the Sound has to offer, be it Tiger Mountain or the Burke Gilman trail.

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