WASHINGTON – Adjusting to a new team can prove a difficult process for any player during preseason. Add an early season injury, and the challenge is that much greater, especially when there’s competition for playing time.
Such was the fate of D.C. United goalkeeper Steve Cronin. Acquired in the offseason in exchange for Troy Perkins, Cronin suffered a fractured wrist early in preseason, forcing assistant coach Pat Onstad out of retirement and into the starter’s role for a few weeks.
After being placed on Injured Reserve at the start of the season, Cronin was automatically ineligible for the first six games of the campaign. Last Friday, for the first time all year, he was back in a D.C. uniform and made the trip to Houston, taking a seat on the bench as Bill Hamid’s back-up.
“It was good,” Cronin told MLSsoccer.com of making his first road trip. “When you’re [out with an] injury, especially one you pick up when you’re fairly new to a team, you can feel pretty disconnected.
“I didn’t see them [D.C. teammates] for the majority of preseason, and you’d get to see them a couple days throughout the weeks and you’d miss road trips, it’s hard to stay connected. It was definitely good to get back on the road.”
Cronin suffered his injury back on February 10, only a few weeks into what was a long preseason. Since then, he’s mostly had to work out on his own, although he returned to full training a month ago and even played in a reserve match against the University of Maryland back in April.
While he’s expected to serve as Hamid’s backup – at least for the time being – Cronin will do what he can to help the team right now.
“We have some work to do as a team, and first and foremost I want to help the team get our legs under us a little bit, start moving in the right direction,” Cronin said. “As part of that, I’m always pushing to better myself every day and doing the little things to make sure I stay healthy and help this team the best way I can.”
Cronin admitted that he’s fine with serving in a support role for now, but that he’s also ready to go if he’s called upon by the coaching staff.
“Every day I feel sharper and I feel like I’m about 99 percent there.”