After making the move to Portugal, Cannon holds bold future ambitions
October 13, 2020
WHILE 2020 has been a difficult year for many players in the world of soccer due to the COVID shutdowns, the shrinking of budgets for many clubs, and the reduced number of international games, in the end Reggie Cannon got what he most wanted – a transfer to Europe. Now at Boavista, the United States international right back is settling into the Portuguese top flight.
Cannon, 22, arrived in Portugal in early September after his transfer from FC Dallas was finalized and scored in his first preseason game. A week later he started in the opener – a 3-3 draw against newly promoted Nacional. After a tough 5-0 loss to Porto, Cannon had his best game, so far, for Boavista in a 1-1 draw with Moreirense FC.
Reggie Cannon: Raw # for Boavista in 1-1 draw vs Moreirense— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 2, 2020
2 key passes
2 dribbles (3 attemps)
2 tackles (2 attemps)
5 duels won, 2 lost
72.4% passing (21/29)
1/2 accurate long balls
1/2 accurate crosses
While Cannon is trending up, he is hoping that this current international window will help improve team chemistry as his squad is still searching for its first win in 2020/21. In its two draws, Boavista let leads slip away with late equalizers.
“That is something we are definitely looking to rectify - especially with this week and half here,” Cannon told ASN from Portugal. “We've played so well - whether it be the first half against Porto or the first half against Nacional, or giving up a late goal in the last game. It's been reoccurring and this team needs to learn how to close out games."
“Right now, there are just a lot of new players coming together with zero chemistry,” Cannon added. “Now is a good period to just play with each other and learn each other’s habits. We haven't had much time to do that yet. So this is good….We have players from literally everywhere - Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, America. It's a great squad. We just have to get the chemistry down. But I am excited for the future.”
As with any American player moving abroad, there is a required adjustment period – both on and off the field. Thus far in Portugal, the off-field adjustment has gone well. He and his wife love Porto where they live with a beach view and enjoy the food.
On the field in Portugal’s top flight, Cannon has been extremely impressed with the level of play in Portugal – and while he notes that it is not considered one of the top five leagues on the continent, he is particularly impressed with the youthful hunger among the players which are seeking their way to the top levels of the European game.
As has been widely reported, Boavista share a common ownership with Lille OSC, typically a top five finisher in France’s Ligue 1 – which is one of the best leagues in France. There is wide speculation that if Cannon performs well for Boavista, he could make a quick move to Lille. Cannon admits he has spoken multiple times with Lille’s sporting director, Luis Campos (who is from Portugal), but insists he is trying not to think about what lies beyond Boavista since he has found the Portuguese league challenging.
“I know people want to say this isn't a top five league but honestly, the first game I played against Nacional was the toughest competition I faced since, I can't even remember when,” Cannon said. “It's continued ever since. That is not a slight to MLS.. I've always had that dream of getting to Europe and becoming one of the best fullbacks in the world one day.”
“Everyone is trying to get to the top level in the top five leagues here,” Cannon continued. “This is where dreams are made. I really believe that everyone here has something special. There is not one player here who is average. I am learning a lot here and I am growing.”
This past week, Cannon made headlines with his appearance on The Crack Podcast where he discussed his recent time at FC Dallas and the biggest takeaway came from the end when Cannon chose to kneel during the playing of the U.S. national anthem – for which some of the Dallas fans booed. On the podcast, Cannon revealed that some within FC Dallas tried to get him to apologize for that.
Cannon admits he looks back on his time with Dallas in a mixed light. He very much appreciates his two head coaches, Luchi Gonzalez and Oscar Pareja, and acknowledges he learned a lot there after he signing a homegrown deal at the end of 2016 and was a starter from the beginning of 2018 through when he departed in August.
“Dallas in every right prepared me for this step,” Cannon said. “They wanted to get me to Europe as quickly as possible. It was obviously difficult for reasons I won't get into….There are a lot of positives and negatives for my time at Dallas. There are some things which really left a sour taste in my mouth from the club. That is just me being 100% honest. But my time at the club, was great. I made some many friends and I learned so much - from Luchi and especially Oscar. I grew so much in that time frame. I thank the club for everything they did for me. But there are a lot of things that kind of come to the surface, especially during the ending times during the negotiations but I couldn't have asked for from the club. It was a great experience there.”
Also on the top of Cannon’s mind is a return to the U.S. national team. The November window is fast approaching and it could be the first time many of the European-based players have been with the team since November 2019. Cannon’s last appearance came at the conclusion of the 2020 January camp when he drew the decisive penalty in a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.
During his transition to Boavista, Cannon has been in regular contact with national team head coach Gregg Berhalter and Cannon has asked him for feed back on his performances. He has also been in touch with his friends in the national team pool about getting back together.
“I have that feeling and I know everyone in the pool agrees, the strides this pool as taken in the past six months is insane,” Cannon said. “These players have made so much happen. We are playing for each other, even though we are in different clubs and different countries. When we reunite, I can't want to see everyone - Christian, Sergino, Weston, Tyler, Josh, Antonee. These players are all in different environments and have changed over the past six months. It is going to be a really exciting time and there is going to be a lot of depth. It's going to inspire even more competition and integration.”
The November friendlies for the U.S. national team have not been announced and the increasing COVID cases in Europe could potentially jeopardize that. Through various reports, however, the plan is for the U.S. team to play Wales and possibly Australia in the United Kingdom. The roster will likely consist entirely of European-based players due to the challenges of importing players based in other continents.
When speaking of the national team, Cannon becomes excited – he even acknowledges that the possibility of playing with the U.S. U-23 team at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo would be the “honor of a lifetime.”
But he also is quick to point out that competition within the current U.S. player pool, from MLS to the best leagues in the world, is extremely beneficial. He even notes that his own potential competition with Sergino Dest, now a right back for Barcelona, is “exactly what the player pool needed.”
With that, he believes that the team is really going to get a fresh start when it next gets together.
“I think it's almost a completely different start,” Cannon said. “There has been a heavy foundation set by Gregg within the past two years. Within the player pool, it is almost a fresh slate because you have so many people taking big strides - from MLS, to overseas, to lower European clubs, to some of the best clubs in the world. It's crazy and it is just going to inspire a lot of integration and competition. But even from a fan's perspective, we are going to have so many different lineups. You have options in how we can play in the national team - and this is something that should be celebrated. We have a very deep, deep team and it is only getting deeper. The national team pool is in a very good place right now.”