Posts Tagged ‘Sam Cronin’

From Coast-To-Coast, Sam Cronin Cruises

TSG’s Jay Bell chats with San Jose midfield cornerstone Sam Cronin

Sam The Man...

You think Sam Cronin and perhaps the thought “solid, perhaps unspectacular, midfielder” comes to mind. But a more appropriate label might be “settling.”

Watching Cronin man the midfield hub for MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes it’s easy to see the impact that Cronin has on the game. He doesn’t get flustered and quietly keeps the team on an even keel–that wasn’t easy task last year through the gritty run to the playoffs, the euphoria around Chris Wondolowski’s breakout campaign, and the challenge of integrating new parts on the fly–midfield mate Khari Shephenson was brought on mid-campaign as was Brazilian Geovanni.

I had a chance to catch up with Cronin in advance of their home opener at the Buck where they welcome MLS powerhouse RSL and unsurprisingly Cronin’s answers reflect his playing style, metered, well-thought out

To Sam:

TSG: How has your first offseason with San Jose been going?

Sam Cronin (SC): Its going good, man. We had a couple changes in the offseason, but mostly its the same core group of guys as last year.  We had a good finish to the year last year.  We think our team got a little better in the offseason.  Offseason has been good and we’re excited to get back at it and hopefully progress and get better for this upcoming 2011 season.

TSG: Has this offseason been kind of different from your first two in Toronto?

SC: Yeah, its been warmer.  That is probably the main difference.  Any offseason is nice.  Get home, do some things with friends during the year and enjoy the down time and just rest your body for the next season.

TSG: Is there a different dynamic with San Jose than there was with Toronto? There always seems to be controversy going on with TFC.

Cronin with a little razzle-dazzle while in Toronto...

SC: Yeah.  San Jose is a much more stable team, in regards to team, the coaching staff and the general manager.  I think its 4 seasons for San Jose?  They have had the same head coach, same general manager and everything.  It always helps and leads to success.  Its good to have [AT&T issues] that know what they want.  We’ve been doing a good job of building things and we think this might be our breakout year this year.

TSG: When did you first know you were being traded to San Jose?

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Quakes Shake Galaxy, Shimmy To 1-0 Win

TSG took in the San Jose Earthquake-Los Angeles Galaxy game from the stands Saturday at a sunny Buck Shaw Stadium and watched as the Earthquakes took the lead early and then befuddled a frustrated Galaxy side.

Wondo: Making $48K go a long way...

An acute angle strike by $48,000-per-year man Chris Wondolowski–he of the now 8 goals on the season–put the Quakes ahead and set the upset in motion.

However, if you witnessed the lead-up, then you know the credit, or discredit, goes to the Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts for failing to communicate with back-up leftback A.J. De La Garza on a cross into the box.

Both De La Garza and Ricketts avoided the incoming hot potato and Wondolowski was all too happy to collect the marble before it bounded beyond the endline and fire it low into the left corner pocket. San Jose was 1-0 to the good.

L.A. coach Bruce Arena was still perturbed at the early gaffe in the post game press conference adding, “I don’t know what Donovan (Ricketts) was thinking on that one. I think he thought the ball was going to go out. I’m going to have to ask him.”

The strike was all the Quakes would need on a day when it appeared they followed the blueprint on the whiteboard in their locker room to the letter. It read:

1. Score

2. Just f*cking win

Once San Jose had the lead, they sat extremely deep and clogged the midfield, resorting to relieving pressure on over-the-top balls to Cornell Glen who, though ably defended most of the day by the Galaxy defense and seemingly beset by a multitude of injuries big and small, battled until he was relieved by the league’s newest Designated Player Geovanni late in the 2nd half.

Despite a big "SuperCannon" banner draped from the stands, Busch raised his game and was a difference maker

Thanks to seven saves by keeper Jon Busch–one an intelligent wrong-handed punch in the 2nd on a ball that it seemed Busch thought would go out–the Earthquakes bend-don’t-break strategy only bent and the battle of California went to the uptown side.

The game certainly appeared to turn in the midfield.

Arena might have credited star Landon Donovan with his “man of the match,” but the Galaxy looked like a team–in midfield–that was far from the top of the table.

At one point in the first half, Sean Franklin waved and audibly called Michael Stephens off the ball, only to see the youngster play the ball and immediately turn it over.

On multiple occasions, Donovan seemed frustrated, either throwing his hands up in the air or constantly beckoning forward Mike Magee to move off him off the ball. (Mike Magee had a nasty case of USMNTitis on the days as well. Definition here.)

Omar Gonzalez could be heard hollering at one point up-the-field at Stephens, “Where the (blank) do you want me to go with that ball?”

I asked Arena about what seemed like a lot of confusion through the center of the pitch after the game:

“Coach, seemed like a lot of confusion in your midfield today and a lot of frustration coming with it. A lot of players throwing their hands up in the air or failing to move off the ball.”

Arena’s response? “Really? I didn’t see it. I didn’t see the gestures.”

San Jose midfielder Sam Cronin did though: “Yeah, I noticed their players getting frustrated. I think we were in good spots. They’re maybe used to getting more space, but we felt as long as they didn’t get behind us today we’d be alright.”

Cronin gave his side a “B+,” citing a good team effort for the high mark, and lack of possession which took it down from an A.

At the end of the day, a B+ effort gets San Jose a hard fought win over the league-leading Galaxy.

Other notes:

Canada's newest import...

• Asked Cronin about Cody Arnoux, his former Wake Forest teammate who recently signed the Vancouver Whitecaps:

“Yeah, I spoke with Cody, he’s excited by it (signing with Vancouver). He had a good time at Everton, but realized he wasn’t ready yet when he went over there. He’s got a good future up there and I think he’ll make it back to Europe.”

• Checked in with Ike Opara, a really nice and well-spoken player, who hobbled on crutches through the press area.

Opara on his broken foot:

“It’s coming along fine. I’m on schedule.”

On possibly missing an opportunity to join up with the USMNT when they faced Brazil:

“Aw, I’m not even thinking about that. I’m just focused on this (pointing to his injured wheel) right now.”

• TSG will be doing a profile on Chris Wondolowski shortly. If you have any questions just send them in.

• If you’re in the Bay Area and making it down to a San Jose, the team management does a great job with the facility it has and the pulled chicken sandwich is the way to go at the concession stand.

• Some comments from the TSG/Black Sox/DieHipsterBrew crew that I attended with:

• “That Gonzalez guy looks like he played the wrong sport…he should be playing rugby.”

• “Those hooligans (the “Ultras”) are so organized.”

• “De La Garza is very aggressive when he’s 1-on-1 with himself and the ball.” Um, okay

• “Mike Magee, following the lead of US nattie team strikers everywhere…”

• “Jeez…how much lemonade do they serve here? No beer, just lemonade.” (The ratio of lemonade vendors to all other vendors at the Buck is 135:1)

USMNT: Common Sense in Defense

Clark

Clark

Bradley

Bradley

Michael Bradley, Bundesliga, age 22, 34 US Caps

Jermaine Jones, highly touted, Bundesliga, age 27

Ricardo Clark, Serie A Livorno perhaps?, age 26, 33 caps

Sam Cronin, 2008 Herman Trophy Finalist, age 22, 2 caps

Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake Captain, MLS Allstar, age 27, 9 caps

Maurice Edu, Scottish Premier League powerhouse Rangers, age 23, 4 caps

Edu

Edu

JJ

JJ

I’ve got some old news for you guys. You all play the same position.

The math: 6 viable options, 1, yes 1 (see Issue 1 below) starting nod. Chances of making the staring XI (all things being equal which they, of course, are not): 16.7%

Take that 16.7% and let’s consider some observations at TSG (and probably in many other locations and hopefully in Bob Bradleys office) on the US’s “Summer of Soccer” 2009:

Issue 1: The USMNT is extremely challenged by employing two defensive midfielders — hence this two defensive pairing in the middle needs to end. It can’t be Bradley and Clark. It has to be defensive holder and Benny, Dempsey, or even Freddy Adu.

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Everton adds another: Cody Arnoux joins the fight

Cody Arnoux

Cody Arnoux

Update: Read more TSG coverage of Everton here.

My support for Everton football just got a bit stronger — American Cody Arnoux is foregoing his senior season at powerhouse Wake Forest and joining Everton FC.

That makes this the second American signed by Everton just this year–little known Cal Poly alum Anton Peterlin was the first–to go with vet Timmy Howard between the wickets.

Everton has now clearly established itself as the EPL’s America FC wrestling the title from Fullham who set the tone (and consequently had many Americans in their corner) over the past few years. While the Fullham side still boasts Clint Dempsey and a renewed Eddie Johnson (plus alums Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegro), Everton has, count ‘em, three American born-and-bred players. Certainly another great step for American soccer.

While I personally enjoy watching some of the sensational international flavor that Everton has to offer: Aussie Tim Cahill is stellar in the air, Moroccan-born Belgium international Maroune Fellaini has the flair (and the hair) for the dramatic, and pint-sized South African Steven Pienaar can slalom through defenders with the best of them, the real story here has to be the program that Wake Forest has built. If you haven’t had a chance to watch any NCAA tournament soccer over the past few years, I encourage you to try and take a moment and watch the Demon Deacons come together for 90 minutes–the fighting spirit that 2007 and 2008 Coach of the Year Jay Vidovich has instilled is second to none.

wake-m-soccer-logo

Among just a sampling of the former and current players that Wake Forest counts among their locker room alum are:

Sam Cronin — featured in the U.S.-Haiti Gold Cup game last week

Michael Parkhurst – USMNT defender who will probably get the nod at CB today against Honduras

Cody Arnoux – bringing his 32 goals and 16 assists from last season with him to Everton FC

Marcus Tracy – Forward and now starter for the top Danish squad AaB

Ike Opara – 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year who runs with the U.S. U-20 squad

Pat Phelan – MLS New England Revolution starter

and a personal favorite….

Julian Valentin

Valentin is an alum of Wake Forest and the Los Angeles Galaxy, however he is probably best known for a vicious hit he received in the 2007 NCAA Championship game (one of the best college or pro games I have watched). Valentin went head first to defend a loose ball near the Wake Forest 18 and received a cleat in the face that is one of the worst if not the worst cosmetic injuries I’ve seen in soccer.

Kudos to a great Wake Forest program and to Cody Arnoux. Take a peek at that 2007 Championship game between Wake Forest and Ohio State here, along with the facial to Julian Valentin at the 1-minute mark of the clip. Apologies as the clip is grainy.

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