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Cronin playing it cool
March 25, 2009, 9:09 AM
Filed under: Sam Cronin, Toronto FC

As he stepped onto the field in Kansas City for his professional debut last weekend, Sam Cronin had one thing going through his head.

“I just wanted to keep things simple and not mess up to be honest with you,” the Toronto FC midfielder said with a laugh yesterday.

Mission accomplished.

The 22-year-old Cronin, second choice overall in January’s MLS SuperDraft out of Wake Forest University, certainly didn’t turn heads with spectacular runs or brilliant balls to teammates. But his steady play was part of a dominant midfield performance as TFC opened the season with a 3-2 win over the hometown Wizards.

Most importantly, Cronin showed through calm handling of the ball, nice passing and timely runs, he belongs in this league.

“Of course, being the first game, I had a little bit of nerves, especially on the road,” said Cronin, a first-team All-American last season. “But as the game went on, it felt like the same old game I’ve been playing for a long time.”

While the soft-spoken Cronin was low-key about how his professional debut turned out, teammates and coaches were not.

“Sam did a great job out wide for us,” said Dwayne De Rosario, who typically plays as an attacking midfielder but started up front alongside Chad Barrett on Saturday. “He hasn’t played that position for us all pre-season and he went out there and did a fantastic job.”

It comes as little surprise to TFC coach John Carver. He liked what he saw from Cronin when Toronto staff watched him at the ACC playoffs, Final Four and scouting combine held prior to the draft.

The only question Carver had about Cronin and goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who was drafted 13th overall by TFC and also made his debut Saturday, was whether they could make the immediate transition from college soccer to the pros.

“They’ve both got the right mentality,” Carver said. “They’re both level-headed … honest, hard working and intelligent guys and that gives them a chance.”

Although Carver refused yesterday to get specific about his lineup for Saturday’s game in Columbus against the defending champion Crew, it appears clear Cronin will again be starting, especially in the absence of fellow midfielders Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson, who are away on international duty.

Cronin said as he gets more comfortable in the MLS he hopes to be more of an impact player.

“I’ve got a lot of learning to do but I’m in a good situation,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of guys to learn from and a good staff to show me the way.

“If I can learn a few things from them every day, I’ll be a better player for it.”

Source: Click Here

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