Cronin returns to familiar territory at D.C. United

Goalkeeper reveals he came close to joining DC several times

When a player gets traded across the country, it cancertainly come as a big surprise. For new DC United goalie Steve Cronin, thenews that he had been shipped from new MLS side Portland to the nation’scapital came when he was on his way for a vacation south of the border.

“I was in between flights going down to Mexico going onvacation with some family, and I just got a message from John Spencer [Portland manager], and hetold me to give him a call back,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I gave him a callback, had about 20 minutes to get on my next flight, and [he] told me thenews.”

The 27-year-old goalkeeper's arrival in DC will be a returnto somewhat familiar territory. Cronin played three games for the club at theend of 2009, after ending up on loan from the Timbers for the conclusion ofUnited’s season.

That short stint aside, there have been other occasions thatmight have brought Cronin to DC on a permanent basis.

“It seemed like for the last few years I was on the vergeof going [to DC] a couple of times," Cronin said. "And I really enjoyed my time playing forthe organization last year [2009], and I’m really looking forward to representing them.”

Traded straight up for United ‘keeper Troy Perkins, Cronin is now back in MLS on a full-time basis, a goal that has been at theforefront of his mind after a four-year stint as a Galaxy backup in Los Angeles cameto an end following the 2008 season.

Cronin ended up in Portland, playingfor the second division club from 2008-2009. By joining the Timbers, he ensured himselfa better shot at playing time, and the numbers proved it. After four seasons in Los Angelesthat saw him only make 28 starts, Cronin started 54 games in his two years inPortland.

Now, a return to DC offers a chance at an MLS startinggig, and a second go-around with a few of the players he knew from his 2009loan.

Ben Olsen, now the head coach, was Cronin’s roommateduring DC’s last game of the 2009 season in Kansas City, and he also trainedwith promising young goalie Bill Hamid.

“He’s young and he’s got a lot of promise," Cronin said. "I lookforward to training with him next year.”

The recent addition of Pat Onstad as an assistant coachalso reunites Cronin with a former teammate.

“I got drafted to San Jose in 2004, and [Onstad] was theNo. 1 goalkeeper at the club then, so I was there with him for a year,” hesaid. “I always liked the guy, and I’m really looking forward to reapingwhatever rewards I can in a player-coach relationship.”

By now, the shock of that mid-vacation phone call hasworn off, and Cronin has been able to enjoy the holidays with family.

He planson making the trip out to Washington in mid-January to look for a place to live,and the rest of his family will join him sometime in February.