Sam Cronin Is the Engine That Powers the San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose Earthquakes central midfielder Sam Cronin rushed toward central defender Jason Hernandez, who was standing with the ball near midfield, and pointed with his finger to where he wanted Hernandez to play it—in front of him, just so, so Cronin could then dictate play.

Hernandez acquiesced, and just like that, Cronin was in possession at center circle.

The 25-year-old midfielder doesn't usually hold onto the ball for long—his style of play is a staple of the modern-paced midfield game, where one and two touches reign, coupled with uncanny vision and movement.

Cronin pairs with Rafael Baca in the 'Quakes' midfield, which uses two central midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation. Baca usually plays a bit higher than Cronin, and to the left, roaming about the attacking third as Cronin holds his position a bit deeper.

That makes his defensive acumen—tracking runs from opposing players, being sturdy in tackles—of utmost importa...

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