Despite their ubiquitous nature in Canadian metropolitan areas, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Sam Cronin did not head straight to the nearest Tim Horton’s upon his return to Toronto.
“I’m not much of a coffee drinker,” Cronin told MLSsoccer.com with a laugh.
That’s OK. Hot java is, after all, the wrong temperature to serve with cold revenge.
Even though this is his first time facing Toronto FC since the club unceremoniously gave up on him in June, Cronin swears he’s not making Saturday’s contest into a grudge match. He does, however, admit that this game has added meaning than most regular-season contests, but only because it offers seventh place San Jose (36 points) a chance to put even more space between themselves and Toronto, who sit five points back in 10th.
“It’s a really, really important game for the Earthquakes,” Cronin said. “With this game, we could put ourselves in a great position, or we could make the playoff race really tight. So we’re just focused on the 90 minutes, focused on the task at hand.”
Cronin has been doing that since his move to holding midfielder, manning the position so well that it’s allowed coach Frank Yallop the opportunity to move Brandon McDonald from that spot to a center-back pairing with Jason Hernandez. That change – San Jose have allowed just one goal in 407 minutes – has been one key reason behind San Jose’s playoff charge.
“It’s one of those things where you move on and don’t look back,” Cronin said. “I’m very happy with where I am now. I’m in a great situation for my career and our team’s doing well.”
Cronin was deemed expendable in Toronto because he didn’t fit into the plans for first-year coach Preki. But Cronin doesn’t gloat over the fact that Preki and Mo Johnston, the team’s director of soccer, were both ousted earlier this month as the team slid further behind in the postseason chase.
“Everything was in such disarray, as it’s now coming out – I don’t know what to believe, there’s so many stories,” Cronin said. “I was a little surprised Preki didn’t get a full year at least. It’s tough circumstances, to not even be given a full year. But apparently, there’s other stuff going on.”
The Quakes aren’t necessarily going to gain an advantage by having a former Toronto player available to give them an inside scouting report. Cronin’s suggestion for San Jose’s No. 1 priority – putting a stop to Dwayne De Rosario – is the same conclusion any sane opponent would reach.
Cronin does know from talking to friends in the area that Toronto’s roster is laying it on the line for interim coach Nick Dasovic.
“We’ve just got to be prepared, knowing that the team’s going to play inspired tomorrow,” Cronin said. “I know the guys love the new coach and they’re going to work hard for him. If we can match and exceed [Toronto’s workrate], I think our quality will show.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes.