USMNT player spotlight
In the midst of a strong 2019, Cannon eyes rematch vs. Mexico
Reggie Cannon is one of many youngsters on the United States national team at the moment and part of a big FC Dallas footprint on U.S. Soccer. Now the young right back is hungry to see the team's potential turn into results on the field. ASN's Brian Sciaretta with the report from the U.S. team's trianing camp in New Jersey.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedWHIPPANY, N.J – As the United States national team prepares to face Mexico in a friendly on Friday night at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, the big topic is still the recent Gold Cup final where Mexico squeaked out a 1-0 result to claim the regional title.
September 03, 2019
September 03, 2019
A trophy won’t be handed out on Friday and, for many, the stakes will be much lower. But for the emerging young core of the U.S. national team, this is a big game and another important opportunity to grow as a team and build confidence. It’s not lost on players and fans that when the U.S. national team was at its high point, many of the most storied wins in the history of the program were against Mexico.
In that respect, many of the young players on the U.S. team are well aware of the importance of these games and that a matchup against Mexico is never a friendly.
Reggie Cannon, 21, is new to the U.S. team but played well at the Gold Cup this summer and stood out in the loss to Mexico. It likely improved his standing within the player pool and the right back depth chart but the loss still stings to this day.
“Right after that Gold Cup final, it kind of struck me on the plane back that you may never get that chance again,” Cannon said after training on Tuesday. “It's playing that game, to play against a team like that, in a setting like that, in an environment like that, and that's why these feelings are still kind of harbored inside of everyone. We learned from that game…It's going to be an emotional tie back to that game, and unfortunately that taste. We lost it and it happened but this time around it's going to be different…The game played out in their favor. They had chances. They put them away and it's that simple. I believe we have just as much talent as they do. It's just going to come down to who plays better. And it's going to be us this time.”
“It means just as much if there was a trophy involved or if there wasn't,” he added. “We're working on changing the way America views soccer and every step, every game is an opportunity to do that. So this game, we're going to play just as we would if it was the Gold Cup final. It's going to be the same and now we're going to give it everything we have.”
In the first year of Gregg Berhalter’s tenure as head coach, Cannon had a tough time breaking through into the team. Initially, he preferred Nick Lima at right back. Then Tyler Adams and DeAndre Yedlin were given chances. Cannon’s opportunity came when he was asked to replace and injured Adams on the Gold Cup roster (with Yedlin also injured).
But the result is that Cannon is now squarely in the mix of a top 23 player U.S. roster as opposed to a distant backup or someone who needed the U-23 team next year to build his case.
“I think the difference is the set of confidence Gregg has really instilled in me,” Cannon said. “The confidence that I needed to kind of make that Gold Cup run - being able to play. From being the last guy call called into camp to playing the Gold Cup final against Mexico - the biggest game in my life. I think that's super important coming into these games. Gregg is continually giving me confidence, my teammates - veterans on the field like John Brooks, even very young guys like Weston McKennie - people like that, they give me the confidence to kind of step up and be able to play these games even at such a young age.”
One of the big themes during this window is the footprint that FC Dallas has had on U.S. Soccer and its various national teams. This week, the U.S. U-17, U-20, U-23, and full national team are in action. Between the four teams, 15 players have either come though the FC Dallas academy or youth teams or have begun their professional careers within the organization.
Cannon is just one player that has come through the academy but a lot of attention has been given to his current FC Dallas teammate Paxton Pomykal who has had a big year to the point where he shined at the U-20 World Cup in May/June and was named an MLS All-Star over the summer.
As a recent newcomer himself, Cannon made his first U.S. national team appearance under Dave Sarachan last year before fighting to make inroads under Berhalter. He did not enter the team with as much hype as what surrounds Pomykal. But as someone who knows Pomykal perhaps better than anyone on the U.S. team, Cannon is excited for what the future holds. He also points out that the FC Dallas bonds are tight and that he wants to do what he can to help Pomykal achieve his potential.
“The impact FC Dallas has had overall - at least [five] people in camp has at least touched the FC Dallas Academy…I think that's super important that FC Dallas have an imprint on players like this. I've been trying to get Paxton ingrained to the national team system and everything. I offered to room with him and Josh Sargent's pissed off at me because of that [laughs]. I really wanted to integrate him and give him the most success he could have possible with the national team because I really do believe that he's the future. People like that with the amount of talent that he has, I think it's really important to get them settled quick and get the confidence that they need.”
But the influx of talent on the U.S. team is not limited to FC Dallas but is rather wide ranging. Cannon jokes that he really doesn’t feel young on this team anymore but rather fits right into Berhalter’s direction of the team – which is only getting started.
“I feel like I'm having gray hairs on the back of my head at 21 years old. I don't know why but I'm always excited for this youth,” Cannon said with amusement. “The average age, it's pretty young for this camp and I think Gregg's really trying to get people situated and get into the concept of national team. People have different paths, different timelines, but the youth is coming in and the youth wave for the U.S. is coming. We've got a lot of talent - a deep, deep pool of talent is coming through. I'm really excited to see Sergino Dest play, see Paxton play. I'm super excited for those guys because I know when they get their opportunity, they're going to do great.”