After three years as the club’s top assistant, Danny Cruz was put in charge of the boys in purple when appointed interim head coach on April 27, 2021, before being named permanent head coach on Oct. 11 that same year.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be the head coach at Louisville City FC,” Cruz said. “I am fortunate that I am able to work with an incredible group of men in that locker room every day.
“…My focus has been and will continue to be on one thing — and that is bringing another championship to Louisville. I understand the expectations at a club of this stature and won’t ever take that for granted.”
Cruz made an immediate impact upon joining the club as a full-time assistant in September of 2018, seeing LouCity win its second straight USL Championship Final, the first club in league history to do such a feat.
In his time with LouCity, Cruz has gone on to further establish a challenging style of play for the boys in purple, playing out of the back with double-digit passing sequences known to confound opposing squads.
“We are excited for Danny to take the reins of LouCity — a well-earned opportunity,” said LouCity president Brad Estes. “The momentum of this organization is unwavering, and we will continue to support our players and staff in their mission to fill the trophy case.”
In January of 2020, the Petersburg, Va., native’s title was updated to include the role of technical director. In addition to his role as a coach, Cruz worked to retain and sign players, plus managed first team opportunities for members of the club’s youth academy.
Cruz played professional soccer from his 2009 MLS SuperDraft selection until he joined the Real Monarch SLC in 2018 as an assistant coach. Over the course of his pro career, Cruz registered 137 Major League Soccer appearances including time with the Houston Dynamo, D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union. Cruz was a starter on the 2011 Houston Dynamo squad which squared off against the David Beckham and Landon Donovan-led L.A. Galaxy team in the 2011 MLS Cup.
Cruz trained under his future boss at LouCity, John Hackworth, in Philadelphia, registering 70 career appearances while scoring seven goals. Cruz also had experience playing with the Des Moines Menace, Minnesota United, San Francisco Deltas and Real Monarchs SLC before joining their coaching ranks.
Since moving to Louisville, Cruz and his wife, Brittany, have also welcomed a son, Santiago, into their family.
The Lincoln, England, native was a star at the University of Louisville from 2001-04, earning Conference USA Player of the Year in 2003, and had a six-year professional career in England before returning as a University of Louisville Assistant Coach from 2009-12. A fixture on the local soccer scene, Bird has worked as Oldham Soccer Club’s Director of Coaching and Kentucky Fire Juniors Boys Director. Bird holds an A License from the U.S. Soccer Federation and is a Qualified Teacher for High School Physical Education and Sports Science.
With a steady hand and his keen eye for technical detail, Scott Budnick was brought in by LouCity coach John Hackworth in August of 2018 as interim goalkeepers coach, helping lead the boys in purple to winning the club’s second-straight USL Championship title.
Budnick’s role was made permanent after that, with a top accomplishment his tutelage of FC Cincinnati loanee Ben Lundt, who spent two seasons in purple, capping his stay by being named the USL Championship’s 2020 Goalkeeper of the Year.
Lundt led the league with nine clean sheets in a 2020 season shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also named to the All-League First Team, Lundt saw his option picked up by FC Cincinnati and will next get his shot in the Major League Soccer ranks.
As a player between the posts, Budnick represented the U.S. at the U-18 and U-20 levels, participating in the U-20 CONCACAF qualification tournament in 1990. After a strong four-year career at the College of William and Mary, Budnick began his professional career in 1993 with the Richmond Kickers and then Hampton Roads Hurricanes in the USISL the following year.
Budnick spent time in the English and German lower divisions before joining Major League Soccer with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion, eventually retiring with the New England Revolution in 2000.
Making the move to Louisville in 2009, Budnick managed the Louisville Lightning of the Professional Arena Soccer League, winning Coach of the Year honors in 2010. The Alton, Ill., native also has experience at the youth level, assisting the U.S. Soccer YNT Identification Center Program for the Kentucky, Indiana and southern Ohio regions and the U.S.Y.S.A. Region II and Kentucky ODP programs. Budnick also assisted the Trinity and Assumption high school programs and local select youth teams.
Budnick and his wife, Shannon, have two children: Koepler and Dillon.
Stuart grew up in Newcastle, England before moving to the United States for higher-level education. He attended Limestone College where he played soccer and earned his BS in Athletic Training. Over the years he has continued his education by earning his MSc in Sports Therapy from Teesside University and his Doctor of Athletic Training from AT Still University. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the NSCS.
He has previously given coverage to Orlando City (USL), Jacksonville Armada (NASL), and El Paso Locomotive (USL) before making the move to Louisville to begin working with Baptist Health Sports Medicine and Louisville City FC.